This blog offers an Australian perspective on faith, religion and spirituality. It invites you to join the joys and hope, the grief and anguish of a middle aged Aussie Catholic.
The material reflects my interest in global as well as local issues.My perspective is probably more quirky than orthodox.
It is with sadness
that we have heard of yet another death of a refugee on Manus Island. This
death could have been prevented. The Australian Government has been removing
support services on Manus Island since the announcement of the closure of the
Those in the care of
the Australian Government whilst in offshore processing, who have come to
Australia for safety and a better life, deserve more.
I urge the Australian
Government to provide support services for those who are on Manus Island, awaiting
a resolution to their current situation. The Australian Government needs to
listen to the concerns of these people and treat them with dignity.
People seeking asylum
are currently some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It
is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. These people
must be provided with options for settlement in safe countries free from
I urge the Australian
Government, to be committed to its international obligations, and continue its
work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the
safety of those seeking asylum.
Whilst it is
important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to
provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. The Australian
Government needs to provide adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement
I urge the Australian
Government, to provide adequate amenities to those on Manus Island, and to
endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.
Most Rev Vincent Long
Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees
Bishop of Parramatta
#WBW2017 will call on advocates and activists, decision-makers and celebrants to forge new and purposeful partnerships. Together, let’s attract political support, media attention, participation of young people and widen our pool of celebrants and supporters.
Only then can we campaign for a generation and commit to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As a Catholic I have been surrounded by religious imagery. At its best it inspires and challenges. At its worse it is tacky and cheap. Yet apart from galleries and some European Churches you will search in vain for an image of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding. Perhaps this is the week to invite our local parishes and religious centres to include this image in our public spaces as an acknowledgement of the Incarnation and the role of Mary as Mother of the Lord. Are your Churches and places of worship welcoming spaces for women to breastfeed as they pray? It seems that the Pope is quite open to this practice: “You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he told worshippers attending an annual ceremony commemorating the baptism of Jesus.
In the last week of June the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference rode on a "high" for a couple of days. On 28th June they released the announcement of a new Plenary Council Executive Council which in pewspeak means a group of people to kick start the Church yet again.
The next day most of them hoped over to Geraldton for the ordination of Michael Morrisey, the new Catholic Bishop. Somewhere between departure and arrival their phones lit up with a news item about George Cardinal Pell that has wiped the gloss off their mitres for the rest of the year.
For Catholics of the "old school",plenary is one of those get out of jail words that conjures up liberation, release, and a short cut to eternal happiness. This Plenary Council however has a slightly more modest agenda:
‘‘This is no time for the Church to be putting up signs that say “business as usual”. If we needed any proof, then the Royal Commission has shown that. We need to face the facts, and in the light of the facts, which aren’t always friendly, we have to make big decisions about the future. The Plenary Council will place the Church on a sound footing to respond to what is not merely an era of change but a change of era.’
So, these lucky people are the super heroes that will unleash a new era for Australian Catholicism which will be launched in 2020!! Nor sure if that includes adding to the census tally So, let's meet the crew and see how they line up in communication with the rest of us in various pews. The link on the name will show a piccie and a bit of a bio or where available a video clip.
Very Rev Ian
WatersSenior Fellow of the Catholic Theological College, Melbourne will serve as Historical and Canonical Consultant to the Committee. Oh dear, poor old Ian gets a serve as lacking a bit of pastoral sensitivity in this extract from "Hell on the Way to Heaven "by Chrissie Foster. Hope his skills have improved a bit lately for this new role. Initially and on an ad interim basis the Committee will be chaired by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Chair of the Bishops Commission. Interesting to note that those of the membership using social media have not yet shared the news of this significant appointment to their readers and followers. Gender balance is even and lay representation exceeds clerics and religious. The age range appears good with a deliberate lean to younger voices. The presence of an Eastern Rite Church is welcome and it is worth acknowledging John Lochowiak, a member of the First Nations Peoples. So, there they are, our new look Plenary Council Executive members ready to take us into that bold future.
I was introduced to my first celebrity Catholic watching B. A. Santamaria every Sunday after Mass and just before World of Sport.
Celebrity Catholicshave taken the lead in the race for identity in Australia. Perhaps it began with Philip Lynch who became the first prominent Catholic in the Liberal Party. His memory has been somewhat overshadowed by a new generation of Catholics in the LNP
Now there is a new breed of celebrity Catholic who appear simultaneously in tabloid and religious news coverage. Nicole Kidman began to attract spots in the CathNews service with her wedding and her first born's baptism A Murdoch baptism was also noted in case readers missed the columns in the family press. Even Alan Bond, canonised as a "corporate crook" made it into CathNews. Bondy also takes out the Catholic Celebrity image of the era for his meeting with Pope John Paul II
Sometimes it can backfire when a celebrity Catholic becomes a celebrity on another team such as Tom Cruise.Would CathNews have covered all of Elizabeth Taylor's other marriages after her first Catholic wedding? Will Mel Gibson be canonised?
Perhaps celebrity Catholicism is here to stay and will continue to pop up in the Royal Family, the entertainment industry and even the Vatican. Let's hope the odds are still with those Catholics who never appear in celebrity or religious news but quietly and passionately live their faith in service and devotion to the life and teachings of the man from Nazareth.
Identity and loyalty are probably the most emotive and divisive marks of contemporary Catholics. For example have a look at the discussion on the Catholica Forum "What Kind of Catholic Are You"?
So, what sort of Catholic are you? I like to see myself as just Catholic . Of all the theological statements and reflections the Church offers, its Social Teachings are my main inspiration. In this body of teaching and in the lives of great witnesses of justice I find a spirituality and vision to live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God..
I suspect my public statements and position on sexuality also mean I don’t qualify for all the reward points accrued by card carrying Catholics. Yet I am Catholic, if only “just”. Why does a middle-aged gay man with a passion for justice, a love of the human body, and sheer exhilaration in the wonder of life continue to claim membership in the Catholic Church?
Because this is the community in which I find a way of celebrating and confronting the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of all humanity, particularly those who are poor or oppressed. And in this community I live out my mission as a "holy irritant" believing that peace overcomes hatred; joy overcomes sorrow; pardon overcomes injury; faith overcomes doubt and love overcomes everything!
Who would have thought to see
New fruit upon so old a tree? (A.D. Hope)
Nothing can go on if we leave the table (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man)
On 18th June 2017 Catholics celebrated one of the most flamboyant of days, Corpus Christi.. It rivals Easter and Christmas for sheer energy and presence.Thanks to Google we can also get an idea of the rich diversity this day breathes into the Catholic community life. Some celebrations are full on formalities with every bit of clerical fashion on display. Others are a more casual affair with whatever props and costumes happen to be on hand.
In 1246, Bishop Robert deThorete of the diocese of Liège, at the suggestion of St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon(also in Belgium), convened a synod and instituted the celebration of the feast. From Liège, the celebration began to spread, and, on September 8, 1264, Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull "Transiturus," which established the Feast of Corpus Christi as a universal feast of the Church, to be celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.
Digression: I have an absolute fascination with everything in Liege. The city is the hometown of my favourite saint, Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (always pronounce the comma as she wasn't just an astonishing virgin)
Back to the history lesson: At the request of Pope Urban IV, St. Thomas Aquinas composed the Divine Office (the official prayers of the Church) for the feast. This office is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the traditional Roman Breviary (the official prayer book of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours), and it is the source of the famous Eucharistic hymn "PangeLinguaGloriosi" From this classic hymn we also have another "Tantum Ergo Sacramentum." The tune popular in Australia has been given a beautiful contemporary setting by Matt Maher. In this pic of the era you can see Tom and Urban discussing a fishing trip. Waiting patiently to the side is the learned St Bonaventure who missed the boat that day.Image source "
Digression 2 Dear old Google has managed to cause great confusion among traditional Catholics. When you do a Google image search for "Corpus Christi" you don't actually get the cool religious images unless you choose the "Feast" tab. . The default choice includes scenic views from the City of Corpus Christi.
The traditional Corpus Christi Procession is a full on parade of various clerics,religious and members of lay associations watched by the loyal laity. They still take to the streets in some cities but others as my home city of Brisbane now just make do with a few laps of a school oval. Don't you love this pic of Pope Benny XVI doing wheelies as part of the ritual in Rome (more links)
A jolly good number of Brisbane Catholics took to the public square for the feast. Until recently this event happened in the suburban quiet of Nudgee Junior College. But in keeping with its more flamboyant expression in Europe the procession now does a lap of honour “around the block” from the Cathedral of St Stephen in true Australian style.
This was a religious event Western style. Solemnity and lots of men. This year I have captured a theme of the "Faces of Catholicism" My favourite has to be this most Catholic of cars. The chant of the rosary and ehoes of the Living Parish Hymnal filled the city for a brief moment. I wonder of the devotees considered the political statement of their presence in the shadows of the great temples of commercial worship.
The feast and its procession provides a platform for a particular feature of Catholicism that has a strong sense of nostalgia for life when Bing Crosby was everyone’s favourite priest and Archbishop Fulton Sheen swooned around the old black and white TV sets. The 2017 Corpus Christi Procession collection is here. See the Brisbane Corpus Christi Procession 2016 here.
To leave you with a woman's insight of what the feast of the Body and Christ is really all about I suggest you sit with the image and text of Laura Facey
I dedicate this page to the brave people and Bishops who protested at the 1981 naming of the USA attack submarine, Corpus Christi.
One of the significant days of this month is June 13th, my name day. My parents made sure I would spend my life gaining easy and instant recognition as a good Catholic boy by naming me after St Anthony of Padua whose feast-day falls on this day Now this saint should not be confused with the many other holy Anthonys who have front row seats in the celestial realm: My "Anthony" is a one of Catholicism's pin-up boys. He is patron for a number of a eternal chores that occupy most of his working days In his spare time he poses for thousand of popular images and statues that adorn churches homes and religious houses. Somewhere along the timeline he also found time to star in a series of movies. My favourite is this classic from the silent movie era made long before the days inter-religious dialogue. :
It's always good to remember that saints are often given to us to admire rather than imitate. Anthony was part of the weird and wonderful world of medieval Catholicism in the early 13th century. He died at 36 in 1231 and never had an intimate relationship. So far I've outlived him and have not found the queue for the call to lifelong chastity. Anthony was a great public speaker and had a pretty sharp intellect. Catholicism has a quaint practice of awarding posthumous PhDs to smart cookies and Anthony eventually got his in 1946. Iconography of the saints is a big business as Churches, Monasteries, Convents,Schools, Oratories, Retreat Centres,Presbyteries and the humble domestic house have all gone shopping for their heavenly personalities to decorate walls. Anthony has quite large choice for the discerning shopper. This feast falls within a time of grieving and burial of Anthony Foster who won't make it into the Litany of Saints but wll be remembered for his passionate challenge to the Church.and its sad history of clergy sexual abuse. Anthony Foster's legacy has ensured that the Church has to undergo a shift in culture. Perhaps it is time to replace the popular 17th Century image of St Anthony with the child Jesus as no longer appropriate. Despite an attempt to theologise the image I suggest it is one that has well passed its use by date. The icon used in this blog is from the work of Robert Lentz OFM. Tourism is also part of every saints working life after death. Anthony has inspired a series of Churches and Basilicas. In Melbourne the local Capuchins applied for an extension of their friary chapel back in the 1950s..By the time they finished Power Street Hawthorn was adorned with its very own Italianate Shrine to St Anthony. I have also discovered that Anthony himself goes on tour for special events. He last appeared in 2010 when his less than attractive remains were taken for a lap of honour around his home base Basilica. Close up pic here. Howeber, it seems that the locals may have been short changed. As you are reading this a piece of his floating rib is touring select cities Downunder. Behind the saccherine hagiography lies the story of a man of faith and service, a man of his time with passion for truth, people and the needs of his era. Yeh, I still invoke him when things go missing and he has been part of my community of faith since my childhood days when his pic used to hang in my parents house over the bathroom door!!!. So here's a call out to all those who share variants of the name Anthony! Celebrate, eat some good bread, indulge in some Italian or Portugese wine and make a public statement about your passions
With friends and neighbours from my local Suburb at the Hlland Park Mosque 11th June 2017
The quintessential Australian religious experience is to sit in a pub after attending an #Iftar on #TrinitySunday. For those unfamiliar with religious scrabble Iftar is the breaking of the daily fast for Muslims during the fasting time of #Ramadan. Trinity Sunday is the Christian feast of the mystery of three persons in one God. So if you are still with me it's like diving in the deep end of cross cultural understanding with divers all on different boards.
Religious diversity challenges our world view and forces us to plunge those core values that we affirm by osmosis, conversion and the sheer wonder of grace. We discover language and practices that are both comforting and unbelievable. And in the midst of it all we honour hospitality, work for the common good and learn respect for difference.
Tonight was was sacred time with my good friends at the #HollandParkMosque where I have been welcomed for many events as we work together to promote understanding and good will.
Checkng in at the pub rather than the Mosque means this post will reach an audience that may not have opportunities to consider these values and take advantage of such opportunities.