Monday, October 21, 2019

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Greets Hindu Feast of Diwali

Believers: Builders of Fraternity and Peaceful Coexistence
Dear Hindu Friends,
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you cordial greetings and sincere good wishes as you celebrate Deepavali on 27 October this year. May this festival of lights illumine your hearts and homes and bring to your families and communities joy and happiness, peace and prosperity. At the same time, may it strengthen your spirit of fraternity with one another.
Alongside the experience of unprecedented advancement in many fields, we live at a time when, on the one hand, efforts are being made towards interreligious and intercultural dialogue, cooperation and fraternal solidarity. On the other hand, there is apathy, indifference and even hatred among some religious people towards others. This is often caused by a failure to recognize the ‘other’ as a brother or sister. Such an attitude can arise from misguided, ungenerous or unsympathetic sentiments, which upset and unsettle the very fabric of harmonious coexistence in society. It is with concern about this situation that we deem it fitting and beneficial to share with you some thoughts on the need for every individual, particularly Christians and Hindus, to be builders of fraternity and peaceful coexistence wherever they are.
Religion fundamentally inspires us “to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved” (Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, co-signed by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi on 4 February 2019). It teaches us, moreover, to respect the inviolable dignity and the inalienable rights of others without any unwarranted bias towards their creed or culture. Only when adherents of religions demand of themselves a life consistent with their religious ethic will they be seen to fulfill their role as builders of peace and as witnesses to our shared humanity. For this reason, religions are to sustain the efforts their adherents make in leading an authentic life so as to “bring forth the fruits of peace and brotherhood, for it is in the nature of religion to foster… an increasingly fraternal relationship among people” (Pope John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace, 1992). As such, living in a spirit of fraternity and fellowship through constant dialogue should be a natural corollary of being a religious person, Hindu or Christian.
Though negative news dominates the headlines, this should not dampen our resolve to sow seeds of fraternity, for there is a hidden sea of goodness that is growing and leads us to hope in the possibility of building, together with the followers of other religions and all men and women of goodwill, a world of solidarity and peace. The conviction that building a world of fraternity is possible is reason enough for us to engage all the more in efforts towards building the edifice of fraternity and peaceful coexistence, keeping “the good of everyone at heart” (Pope Francis, Message for the Opening of the Annual Interreligious Prayer Meeting for Peace, “Bridges of Peace”, Bologna, 14 October 2018).
It is a happy coincidence that the beginning of this month marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, “an outstanding and courageous witness to truth, love and nonviolence” (Pope John Paul II, Prayer for Peace at the Conclusion of the Visit to Raj Ghat, Delhi, 1 February 1986) and a valiant protagonist of human fraternity and peaceful coexistence. We would do well to draw inspiration from his example in living peaceful coexistence.
As believers grounded in our own religious convictions and with shared concern for the welfare of the human family, may we join hands with those of different religious traditions and all people of goodwill, and strive to do all we can – with a sense of shared responsibility – to build a more fraternal and peaceful society!
Wishing all of you a joyful celebration of Deepavali!
Miguel Ángel Cardinal Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
Rev. Msgr. Indunil Kodithuwakku Janakaratne Kankanamalage

No Nudes Please, We're Catholic

During a highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, Pope Francis placed the  Synod for the Amazon under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi.


During the ceremony Pope Francis receives a number of cultural gifts from representatives of the Amazon. Among the gifts was a wooden statue of a naked pregnant woman. Nudity has always been a bit of a contentious issue in the Vatican. This time the Temple Police swung into action and threw several copies of the statue into the Tiber.

A dramatic 4 minute video recording shows copies of the statue present before the altar at the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina and then two men carrying them toward a bridge near Castel Sant’Angelo, the mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Hadrian that has been used by popes as both a castle and fortress.

Pieces of the statue are placed on the bridge and one by one, knocked into the muddy waters below.

Following the incident, Paolo Ruffini, the head of Vatican communications, repeated that the image resents “life, fertility, mother earth.” Ruffini said the incident “seems to me to contradict the gesture of dialogue” that the synod should represent.

 The Synod of Bishops on the Amazon focusing on the pastoral needs of the Amazon region has now entered its final week and is set to conclude on October 27. (Source)

The video of the incident is not good quality but it does provide "Real Catholic Crime" with a  quick tour of the Church and the surrounding tourist hot spots. Worth noting that the two  thieves are blokes who obviously have issues about women's bodies. This is not surprising if you look at the source of this video and read some of the comments!!!

I put on my Inspector Morse hat to dig a bit deeper and what do I discover in Wikipedia: Pope Sixtus V designated the church as a cardinalitial titulus on 13 April 1587.[1] The current cardinal of Santa Maria in Traspontina is the former Archbishop of QuebecMarc Ouellet, who supports Opus Dei,[2] and is the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops of the Roman Curia. He was Cardinal Priest from 2003 to 2018, and continued there when co-opted to suburbicarian rank.

Aha, we have LifeSiteNews, Opus Dei and ChurchMilitant all lined up as strange bedfellows in this saga!!

The statue is in fact a source of Amazon devotion to Mary.thanks to Pedro Gabriel who has researched the origins of this devotion and published  a useful and informative text and video.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Teresa and Therese

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, 1647-52 (Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome). Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker This is Saint Teresa's description of the event that Bernini depicts: "Beside me, on the left, appeared an angel in bodily form.... He was not ta...

Today is another great day for Catholic women and a feast day that should put the wind up certain clerics in more ways than one.

It's 15th October and a day we celebrate St Teresa of Avila. Born as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada , she became a writer, theologian, mystic, and a no-nonsense nun.

Even Wikipedia acknowledges: "Her written contributions, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are today an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature. Together with The Way of Perfection, her works form part of the literary canon of Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practice, and continue to attract interest from people both within and outside the Catholic Church."

Quirky bit of history: Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic Europe was making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required the excision of the dates of 5–14 October from the calendar. She died either before midnight of 4 October or early in the morning of 15 October which is celebrated as her feast day. (According to the liturgical calendar then in use, she died on the 15th in any case, which began at sunset.).

When I was a young Catholic lad my grandmother didn't have any images of this Tess in the house,preferring the 20th Century French lass, St Therese of Lisieux who played for the same convent team as Avila and also left a legacy of writings that endured her to a new generation. Therese is also an October  pin -up getting her memorial day on 1st  October.

Therese of Lisieux has a whole dynasty of sainted relatives with her parents also being canonised as recently as 2015.
So it/s name day greetings and belated greetings to the Teresa and Therese network of friends as well as friends across the communities of Carmel.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Song For the Synod For the Amazon

People Get Ready
People, get ready
There's a train a-coming
You don't need no ticket
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don't need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
People get ready
For the train to Jordan
Picking up passengers
From coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There's room for all
Amongst the loved the most
There ain't no room
For the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those
Whose chances are thinner
'Cause there's no hiding place
From the kingdom's throne
So people get ready
For the train a-comin'
You don't
Source: LyricFind

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Lepanto,the Rosary and History

Unlike Rotary, being Catholic means you get to carry a lot of historical baggage. Most pew warmers have little idea of the colourful anthology that goes with ticking the Catholic box on the census form.
Today,October 7th  is the "Don't mention the war" day. In devotional terms it appears as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Sounds pretty innocent and we have a couple of parishes and schools in Brisbane dedicated to to OLR. ( Catholics invented religious acronyms )

However back in 1571 long before interfaith dialogue and non violent conflict resolution Christians and Muslims faced off in the messy Battle of Lepanto. It came to a grand final on October 7 that year with the Christians 1 defeating the Muslims 0

The connection with Mary aka BVM is that the commander in chief of the Christian in this battle was a saintly but war savvy Pope Pius V ( that's a 5 not a V). As well as building a coalition of the willing among disparate interests he added a dash of devotion by inspiring the troops and most of Europe's Catholics who had 't gone Protestant to pray the Rosary. As they say, the rest is history. Remember this was done long before Facebook events pages or Meetup.

"Lepanto was not the victory of Christianity over Islam, nor is its significance to be considered primarily in religious terms or as a clash of civilisations. Of course that does not mean that was not how it was viewed in a celebrating Europe, including Protestant England, and in the many paintings that have come down to us as representing the battle. Yet across the centuries Lepanto also looks like an exercise in futility, a scene of blood, gore and human misery that, at least on the surface, settled so little.
It was the last major naval battle that involved galleys rowed by banks of oarsmen. And it was won, somewhat against expectations, by the side that was willing to experiment with the use of overwhelming firepower in an attempt to blow the enemy ships out of the water rather than use the time-honoured practices of hand-to-hand combat." (Source: Quadrant 1st April 2008 )

Thankfully we have moved a little beyond the murky world view of the 16th century where religion, politics, culture and conquest all rolled into one agenda. Or have we?

So today is a good day for all people of faith to pray for peace and understanding. If you are Catholic dust off your grandmothers beads and run your fingers over the mysteries of life. For instructions just got to YouTube for video or google for a text version.

Better still if you can, send a message of good will and solidarity to a Muslim friend or Christian. But as John Cleese would say "Don't mention the war".

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pride Comes To Wynberg

Brisbane Pride Festival is the annual opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our community and the grace of sexuality as a person of faith.
The Pride March through New Farm was a wonderful spectacle as Brunswick Street filled with colour and festivity.

Being a bit of a cheeky #Catholic I couldn't resist the opportunity to grab pics of the parade as it passed Wynberg,the historic home of Archbishop Mark Coleridge.
However today as I was editing pics for publication I discovered that the South African town after which Wynberg is named is also home to Compassion-centred Islam.
The town of Wynberg includes the Masjid Ul-Umam Mosque which is a place of welcome for Gay and Lesbian Muslims.
Can you imagine my excitement this weekend to have stumbled on a previous unspoken link between Wynberg in Brisbane and Wynberg in South Africa: a link that promotes both Interfaith relations as well as breaking down religious fears and suspicions about sexual diversity.
I am publishing these images as both a challenge and an affirmation of my commitment to Interfaith relations and my sexuality as a Gay Catholic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Catholics Called Join the Global #ClimateStrike on 20 September!

The Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane encourages all Catholics to join with fellow Australians in the Global #ClimateStrike on 20 September.

The recent visit to Brisbane by the President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, has underlined for us how critical the situation is for our sisters and brothers in the Pacific and how urgent it is that wealthy countries like Australia take decisive action to address the climate emergency.

The words Archbishop Chong wrote for a climate change lament ring in our ears: “Mother earth is crying. Save our home!”

Pope Francis also released a powerful message on September 1 for the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. In it, he urges us to take our lead from the many young people who demand action from Governments to transition rapidly from fossil fuels to renewable energy. He calls for prophetic action. The Pope’s words and the demands of our young people also ring in our ears.

We know also that some in our country are worried about their economic future if we transition quickly away from fossil fuels. Their concerns are important and we hear them also. We believe that it is possible, with commitment and determination, to safeguard their economic future at the same time as we protect the future of the young people of today through decisive climate action.

It’s time for us as Catholics to take seriously our sacred responsibility to care for our common home, the earth. We have no time to waste!

We urge our fellow Catholics and people of goodwill to support the young people who are working hard to convince our leaders to take action in the face of the climate emergency. Take to the streets with them on Friday 20 September. Bring your family and friends with you too. Send a powerful message to our leaders that we want them to protect our planet and to safeguard the future for our young people.

The Brisbane Global #ClimateStrike action will take place between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM in Queens Gardens, corner of George & Elizabeth Streets, Brisbane.

Josephites endorse climate action
The Sisters of St Joseph will support the worldwide climate rallies on the 20th September.

“After careful deliberation we are taking this strong decision,” said Sister Monica Cavanagh, congregational leader of the Sisters of St Joseph.  “We are aware of the dilemmas facing families and educational establishments grappling with the realities of the climate crisis, side by side with their educational obligations to students and families.  Nonetheless, our history as Josephites, and the urgency of the climate issues facing us, impel us to support this action.”

The fundamental message of the young activists is that they are taking action because governments won’t.  The Sisters decision to support and join the rallies lies precisely in this concern about the government’s inaction and its refusal to take leadership, even in the face of the clear global threats being experienced across our world, and in our own country.  The current bushfires, drought, and crises facing the Murray Darling are symptomatic of these realities.

“How can we not take action?” asked Sr Monica.  “our Pacific neighbours watch as their lands are disappearing.  Pope Francis urges us to both treasure Earth, and do all we can to preserve its health.  We also know that it is those who are most defenceless who are most immediately affected by the devastation we are causing.  Both our religious faith and the call to us as humans propel us to do all we can to preserve the gift of creation.”

Josephites around Australia and overseas pledge to support the rallies on 20th September through word, prayer, action, and safe, non-violent and appropriate action.  Knowing that it is the cohort of well-informed young people who will have to bear the brunt of governments’ distortion of facts and deliberate choice of profit over life has led us to this decision.

As Sr Monica says, “in this issue, we can do no other.”

Sisters of Saint Joseph
9 Mount St North Sydney 2060

Media enquiries
Jan Barnett
0403 634 534

Jesuit Social Services stands with young people across the globe demanding climate action. As an organisation, we continue our commitment to ecological justice.

The natural world is our greatest gift. As an organisation whose mission it is to build a just society, we recognise that the social and environmental are inextricably linked. The pursuit of justice necessarily involves care for the planet as our common home and transformation of the untenable social and economic systems that have produced the climate crisis and widespread environmental degradation threatening our future. It requires attention to already vulnerable communities who will be worst affected by the impacts of a changing climate.

Inspired by Swedish school student Greta Thunberg, students in Australia and across the globe have asked everyone to join them in calling on governments to commit to urgent action to create climate solutions. Grassroots actions will take place in cities and towns all over the world ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in late September, centering on the Global Strike 4 Climate on Friday 20 September.

Nationally and internationally, the Jesuits are committed to accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future and care for our common home. Jesuit Social Services sees our support for the young people leading the calls for climate action as consistent with these commitments.

On Friday 20 September, we are encouraging staff to support their local action and in doing so, lending our voice to thousands of young people across the globe working to build a more just and sustainable future.

We encourage you to join us.

Details of School Strikes for Climate across Australia are available here.

Know Your Bishops: Richard Umbers of Sydney

Bishop Richard Umbers  of Sydney  is  a bit like the reincarnation of the late Mother Angelica.

For those unfamiliar with recent Church History, Mother Angelica was the founding mama of EWTN, the Eternal Whinging Television Network. She was another one of those "iron fists in a velvet glove"  types only she came in a full flight with wimple, coif, and scapular.

The jolly media savvy Bishop loves to post memes that  provoke rather than evangelise. His followers almost salivate with pavlovian  delight as he populates his Twitter and Facebook accounts with posts that pander to his audience's fear, prejudice  and informed ignorance.

Back in August Bishop Umbers  posted the meme above which attracted 121 "likes', 18 comments sand 6 shares. on Facebook but only 27 likes and 1 rI cannot stand that hymn either.etweet on Twitter. At no stage did the good Bishop or any of his followers acknowledge the composer, Sr Deidre Browne IBVM  a musician and liturgist on staff at Yarra Theological Union.

Here is a sample of the responses to Bishop Umber's meme:
 Come as you are
Just wear your undies
Come as you are

Onesies are fine
Do do do soooo
Do do do do dooo

I cannot stand that hymn

My mother said that she wants this song (I can't call it a hymn) at her funeral. I said that in that case I wouldn't be going. A response: Tough love. But it's for the best.


I posted a response to the Bishop on both accounts using this link with some background and a better pastoral insight.

This meme along with most of the other content from Bishop Umbers demonstrates a polemic that seems out of step with many other members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Few if any statements from the media office  of the ACBC or the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council appear on his feed.

Will he feature this year's Social Justice Statement, Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world. Will Bishop Umbers read it?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Into The Deep Seeking Justice for the People of West Papua

I may not judge a book by its cover, but I certainly take notice of the cover. Into the Deep Seeking justice for the people of West Papuafeatures an image of a lone man walking a rough road in the highlands of West Papua. It is a telling image of the wonderful way in which the author, Peter Arndt weaves storytelling, history and theology into a compelling narrative.

This small booklet is part of the Catholic Social Justice series which began in. 1987 and continues to provide research, education and advocacy about the Church’s social justice teaching and their application within the Catholic Church in Australia.

This paper draws our attention to West Papua and in the words of Bishop Vincent Long who wrote the forward, Peter “honours us by sharing his experience over a number of years. He shows us how he has come to understand their indomitable desire for self determination and to recognize how the Gospel calls him to walk beside his friends on their journey”.

This booklet is a call to action grounded in   the spirituality of the Gospel and nourished by solid political and historical documentation. Peter Arndt provides us with a fresh and challenging approach to the classic catholic social teaching of solidarity. By sharing his personal journey with the people of West Papua Peter takes us as the title suggests into a deep appreciation of solidarity in suffering, struggle and determination.

Into the Deep is a personal diary as much as an educational tool. It will be useful for groups and individuals looking for an introduction to a regional issue that calls for our attention. The notes referenced in the paper provide further reading and valuable resources. The names of West Papuans whose testimonies and stories are shared can also be found in videos and reports online. This electronic material supports Peter’s commitment to the journey of self determination for the Indigenous people of West Papua.

Schools will find this booklet a useful reference for senior study of religion, history and social study. Again, most of the references provided by Peter are accessible online for those wanting to research original sources.  The booklet lends itself to a series of lesson plans which could include valuable learning outcomes in narrative, history, religion and politics.

So, back to the cover where the lone figure walking that rough road in the West Papua highlands  invites us to a deep understanding of the history, the politics and the struggle for self determination in West Papua. I recommend this booklet as a pilgrim text to be read and then responded to with  the words and deeds of Jesus that nourishes our faith.

Into the Deep Seeking Justice for the people of West Papua   by Peter Arndt is available in print and electronic versions.

Follow this book on goodreads