Friday, November 17, 2017

How can our government better support and foster human values?

Source http://slideplayer.com/slide/2437893/
In the lead-up to the Queensland State elections on 25th November the Archdiocese of Brisbane has  launched a public forum inviting  discussion on public policy and Catholic values.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge encourages participation in these words:

 " I warmly invite you to contribute your thoughts on the ways you believe the future Queensland Government could better support families, particularly those who support Catholic values. We would like to see improvements in learning and education from a future government that reflects the core values of decency towards Queenslanders. 

Your feedback can help to continue shaping an environment for our children, anchored among Catholic values that include respect for others"

The heading for the online forum points to "human values" yet the blurb invites a reflection on "Catholic values" This itself is a good starting point for conversation.  So, away you go. Let's build this conversation. The link is here

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Limerick for Archbishop Hart

One of the quirky observations I made at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne some years ago was  that the official portrait of Archbishop Denis Hart with Pope John Paul II  mounted under a bright 'Exit" sign.

"Exit" seems to be the Archbishops preferred term for gay people working in the Church. His most recent contribution to the public debate about marriage equality is a threat to sack same sex couples who might marry should the legislation be passed by Parliament.

To commemorate this public announcement I have added to my collection of episcopal limericks:




There is an Archbishop called Hart
Who says being gay isn't smart
If you marry one day
He'll block all your pay
That's an act of man with no heart


Back in 2015  the Archbishop featured  in The Age, where he   weighed in about the "gay lifestyle": Catholic Archbishop warned against "tolerating" gay students" . The photo of the Archbishop in this article had him  looking to the left  Hope springs eternal!!

I find the weasal words of "gay lifestyle" used by Archbishop Hart pretty meaningless. My lifestyle includes, catching public transport, going to work, catching up with friends, praying, and a host of mundane activities like hanging out the washing.Much of my lifestyle is pretty similar I imagine to a "non-gay lifestyle"And like Archbishop Hart I love a good dose of pomp and circumstance. Does that suggest the Archbishop may be taking a plunge into the "gay lifestyle"?

As a life member of  St. Joseph's Old Collegians Association​ I applauded  the decision of Paul Tobias and the College community to sign up to the Safe Schools Coalition. As a young gay student  in the late 60s I lived with the frightening silence and isolation that can haunt a young person coming to terms with sexuality. The culture of my local and faith community lacked the language of support that I needed.In recent years I have been welcomed back to SJC to tell my story to a new generation of young men who have a healthy respect for diversity among their peers

Again in 2017 it is worth remembering the  call from Professor Peter Norden for the Catholic Church to develop a positive understanding of sexuality.

The original text for this post was published on the feast of the androgynous St Wilgefortis


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Media Release – Christian Leaders Welcome Civil Marriage Equality Bill

7 August 2017

A group of Christian leaders and academics today welcomed the much-anticipated Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, opposing any form of plebiscite and instead urging the Parliament to make it law through a free vote in the Australian Parliament. Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Rev Dr Peter Catt said, “As Australians of faith we celebrate that we live in a democratic, multicultural and secular nation.

“We believe that the law should reflect the widely held conviction that LGBTI Australians should be treated equally and be able to marry the person they love.”

Rev Dr Margaret Mayman of Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, said, “I fully support civil
marriage equality because of my faith, not in spite of it. As an ordained minister, I believe in a
God who welcomes every person. I am passionate about this because this is about my LGBTI
friends and their families who are a beloved part of our church community. I call on Australian
politicians to listen to the voices of people of faith, a majority of whom support marriage
equality. We call for a free vote. We remind politicians that this is a civil issue that does not
affect religious beliefs and practices.”

Read full statement with signatures here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bishop Vincent statement on refugee death

Statement from MostRev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

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 detention centre.
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 further persecution.
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 options.
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

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2017

The World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year in 2017 is about working together for the common good!

#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.







Tuesday, July 04, 2017

New Catholic Super Heroes for Australia


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.

Mr Daniel Ang – Broken Bay
In addition to writing timeofthechurch, Daniel can also be followed on Twitter (@DanielAngRC), at LinkedIn or contacted by email (DanielAngRC@gmail.com). He is a married layman with two children. Still waiting for him to answer my friend request on Facebook.

Mr Shayne Bennett – Brisbane
·    Manager of FX Mission Teams, the University Arm of NET Ministries at NET Australia
·     Director Mission and Faith Formation at Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane  Another FB friend request "in the queue
  
Br Ian Cribb SJ – Broken Bay

Dr Gemma Cruz – Melbourne


Ms Sally Hood – Brisbane Also "in the queue awaiting response to a FB friend request.

Mr John Lochowiak – Adelaide

Dr Brigid McKenna – Hobart

Ms Sarah Moffatt – Adelaide A FB friend!!

Sr Grace Roclawska CSFN – Parramatta

Rev Dr Ormond Rush – Townsville Has FB so you can follow him but does not have a friend request button/


Mrs Theresa Simon – Sydney (Maronite Church)

Dr Nigel Zimmerman – Parramatta

Very Rev Ian Waters  Senior 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 as of publication 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.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

You Can Bet on Celebrity Catholics

One of the biggest stories to come out of the 2016 Australian Census statistics is that  those indicating "No religion" have outnumbered Catholics.

Catholics may not have the numbers, but they have the clout as shown in the Facebook page of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne which made a feature post on 28th June  of  Patti Newton a prominent Melbourne Catholic, having just been honoured in the Queen's Birthday awards" Now that's what I call celebrity Catholicism. However, I suspect that deep in the crypt of St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne the bones of Irish patriot, Archbishop Daniel Mannix will be rattling with disbelief.

Catholics, like Heinz come in many varieties! Popular Catholics in Australia are devout, practising, (aka committed) and Mass-going. Less popular Aussie  Catholics are lapsed and even bad. In recent history some have become Exiles and Inclusive. We and even Gay and Lesbian Catholics

We can be RomanUkrainian, Melkite  Maronite,  Syro-Malabar. And for all you scrabble fans we now have the  "Ordinariate Catholics".

So, back to Patti Newton and Celebrity Catholicism. America has had a longer tradition of "Celebrity Catholics" thanks to Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, all the Kenedys  and Al Capone.

Australia can trace its beginning of  celebrity Catholics from  Ned Kelly to Ronald Ryan. Mary MacKillop is exempt from this category as she is in the Sainted division of Catholicism, although she does have her own celebrity web site.Sitting on the fence between celebrity and saint is Caroline Chisholm deposed from the five dollar note by the Queen.

I was introduced to  my first celebrity Catholic watching B. A. Santamaria every Sunday after Mass and just before World of Sport.

Celebrity Catholics have 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"?


George Cardinal Pell of  cappa magna fame is responsible for the most interesting variety of   Catholic. His celebrity status includes "Australia's most senior Catholic" "Top Catholic" "Most Senior Ranked Catholic". He features in two recent books, "Hell on the Way to Heaven" and "Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell"


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 ChardinThe Phenomenon of Man)