Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Cost of Clergy and Religious Abuse in The Catholic Church

As a person who has worked with survivors of clergy abuse and their families I too believe it takes a monumental "leap of faith" to tick the Catholic box in the census form.

Just reading the anger and pain in comments on social media from those who have been on the receiving end of  processes that have failed to point towards healing is enough to understand why the Church is losing its integrity in the community.

This week's headline in The Age: "Church to block victims' court bids despite promise to abandon practice by Pell" can only leave the Church open to ridicule and empty pews.

 In a year dedicated to the value of the Consecrated Life there are too many bodies carrying the scars of abuse and neglect by members of religious orders for this initiative to inspire  those who are not in the habit of taking vows.

If the Church really wants to look this issue in the eye I suggest it abandons its financial investment in the coming World Youth Days and invests the funds in a compensation package for survivors. If it included the investment made for WYD2008 in Sydney I'm sure there would be a reasonable  bank account, even if it needed to sell a few assets.

Thanks Frank Brennan for stating it as it is. You and fellow clergy who speak out such as Fr Kevin Dillon in Gelong will never reach the ranks of the hierarchy. Your mission is to disturb their comfort zones and  rattle their mitres.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Dignity of Work:An Australian Catholic Perspective

Joseph With Baby Jesus - Louis Glanzman
To celebrate the Feast of St Joseph the Worker the Australian n Catholic Social Justice Council released a pastoral  letter, The Dignity of Work -When It Matters Most.

There are times when Catholics are able to celebrate their religious and civic identity as integral and meaningful. This letter is one such opportunity.

We are not a community obsessed by issues of sexuality, nor are we a community that prefers to protect the institution over the victims of institutional abuse.

 We are a community passionate about being fully human and sharing the dignity inherent in every person and creation.This pastoral letter  picks up a sentence I have used as a touchstone for my faith and action:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.1

The pastoral letter is a political challenge to the  dominant economic culture and policies  adopted by recent Governments  formed by both of the major parties.The challenges are laid out in four sections:

  • Failing vulnerable individuals and families
  • Failing communities on the edge
  • Failing future generations
  • The source, the centre and purpose of economic life

This is not the first time the Australian Bishops have issued a pastoral letter of this strength and passion.In fact there is a series of them going back to 1998 on this site. I wonder how many of these letters have been seen by the current Catholic members of the Federal Government? I also wonder how many parishes and diocese have promoted these letters. When was the last time your parish or faith community discussed one of these topics?

Putting People First: The call for an economy of social inclusion
Indigenous employment: the most basic form of social justice 
Working families’ and the minimum wage at a time of financial crisis
The voice of vulnerable workers in the changing world of work 
Casual work: the costs of flexibility 

When I was looking for an image for this story i selected the one from the work of Louis Glanzman.I thought the work looked familiar and then I discovered I had seen it before. It is part of a collection published in a book with Richard Rohr, Soul Brothers Men in the Bible Speak to Men Today. That book, signed by Richard sits among my  readable treasures. To those treasures I will now add this series of Pastoral Letters for the Feast of St Joseph The Worker.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Online Prayer Vigil for Those Facing Execution in Indonesia.


This week begins with the news that the Indonesian Government intends to proceed with the execution by firing squad of ten people convicted of drug offenses.

As part of the global movement for the abolition of the death penalty I invite you to join me in vigil for these people.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso;
 Serge Areski Atlaoui;
 Myuran Sukumaran;
 Andrew Chan
 Rodrigo Gularte; 
 Raheem Agbaje Salami; 
 Martin Anderson; 
 Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise; 
 Okwudili Oyatanze; 
 Zainal Abidin.

--Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J.
Used with permission
God of Compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts
so that we may love as You love,
even those among us
who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.
For there is in our land a great cry for vengeance
as we fill up death rows and kill the killers
in the name of justice, in the name of peace.
Jesus, our brother,
you suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did not let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduing love may help them heal.
Holy Spirit of God,
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly
for the abolition of state-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart
so that violence will be no more. Amen.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Caritas Support Needed in Nepal

Caritas Nepal was founded in 1990 by the Catholic Church to respond to the devastating floods and other natural disasters that occurred
Beginning as a 3 member team the agency has grown and expanded their range of services and today operates in 50 of the 75 districts in Nepal. As the social arm of Catholic Church in Nepal, Caritas Nepal aims to apply animation and sector specific participatory approaches to empower the poor, women, marginalised, and disadvantaged people to reduce poverty, secure humanitarian assistance to refugees and in times of emergency and conflict, and realise social justice and peace. Read more here
Caritas Nepal staff are rushing to respond to a strong earthquake. The quake measured 7.9. The epicentre was between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara. Extensive damage has been reported, with loss of life and injury.
Caritas Nepal director Fr. Pius Perumana S.J. is in Kathmandu. He said,”It was the worst earthquake I have ever experienced in my life. The after shocks are still strong. The indications so far are that this is a major emergency.”
He said that there has been lots of physical damage, electricity has been down making communications difficult and roads are blocked. “Lots of houses have fallen down and there are lots with cracks. Thank God it was during the day and on a holiday as many people were outside when the quake happened.”
Assessments are coming in and Caritas teams in country are organising the response. “Rescue is the first priority. Lots of people have lost their homes and are out on the street or in open spaces, so we will be looking to provide them with food and temporary shelter.”
The airport is currently closed so Caritas members are looking to send aid overland from India.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Christian Meditation Community Day Brisbane

“Meditation and God’s Gifts”. Come aside and spend some time to deepen your understanding of Meditation and God’s Gift’s and join with others walking the contemplative path.
Sat 18 Apr 2015, 9:30am – 2:30pm
Location : Holy Spirit School Hall, 36 Villiers St, New Farm

Contact : Johanna Lawrence
Phone : 3314 1404
Email : jahannal1@optusnet.com.au
Our community is part of the World Community for Christian Meditation WCCM 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter in the Midst of Violence

As most of us pick over the leftovers of our Easter feasting in the land of the long weekend it is hard to imagine the cries of 'He is Risen" being proclaimed this weekend in the churches and places of worship in Kenya.

And yet the sacred feast was celebrated  with the tears and sorrow of a nation grieving the massacre at Garissa University College by the Somali-based  extremists al-Shabaab. 

The country is now in three days of mourning while they celebrate the mystery that gives so much meaning to their lives. Religion, spirituality and politics collide in  the disturbing images of young bodies slain for their faith. For many of us the public display of the bullet ridden bodies of the Garissa attackers challenges our cultural sense of superiority and civil behaviour.

So, what can we do? You can send messages of solidarity and condolence to the Archdiocese of Mombasa. You could also send messages to the facebook page  of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa Youth office. You  can also send messages to the Kenyan Association of Australia. 

You can follow developments in Kenya here. Most of all we can sing with our sisters and brothers and share our solidarity and compassion at this time of Easter