Friday, July 25, 2014

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
Protecting the Lonely Children: Recommendations to the Australian Government and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to unaccompanied children who seek asylum and refuge in Australia.
The report  “paints a harrowing picture of neglect and abuse, one that we could not imagine allowing our own children to be placed in” and notes “that children who come to us seeking asylum are to be regarded as a significant threat requiring detention and deportation represents the utter moral failure of leadership in our country.”
Building on our earlier report All the Lonely Children which posed 15 questions for the incoming government, this further edition analyses the response from both the Government and Opposition and makes a series of practical recommendations for a more compassionate approach towards children seeking our protection.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Christina the Astonishing, Virgin Patron of Holy Irritants

MY VERY CATHOLIC PARENTS made intentional choices when naming their children. At my baptism I was given the spiritual mentors, Anthony of Padua and Gerard Majella. Both inspiring men who were so captured by commitment to the reign of God they dedicated their lives in consecrated service in their particular time and culture.

The Catholic Culture in which I was nurtured also led me to adopt Dominic Savio as my Confirmation patron. This was no mean feat in a largely Anglo-Celtic community. On our confirmation day in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Geelong West the beloved priest, Father John Perkins recited the traditional "Irish" names of Peter, Paul, Patrick, James and the like chosen by the boys of St Patrick's School. After all these years, I can still hear the sudden gasp from the congregation as my chosen name was announced with a definite Italian ring to it.

Anthony, Gerard and Dominic all died young, lived chastely and were not exactly fun role models for a young teen caught up in the spirit of the 60's. However, their passion for God's reign of truth and service of the poor inspired my childhood and youth.

In latter years I have also adopted another patron and spiritual mentor whose feastday falls on July 24. In keeping with my heightened sense of the "feminine", my newly adopted patron is a woman saint.

Christian the Astonishing, Virgin
My adopted mentor is Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (1150 - 1224) (when read aloud the word "comma" should be pronounced) Christina's bio reads like the script from a Dan Brown and Steven Spielberg collaboration. This is definitely a PG rated text. It is best read, seated with all lights on and the children safely in bed.

This image depicts the first recording of Christina's public appearances when she was believed to have died, but managed to soar from her coffin during her funeral Mass. Not surprisingly, such behaviour saw a quick exodus from the Church with only the dutiful priest and her distressed sister left to witness this amazing resurrection. And yes, there was more: while presumed to be dead, she had in fact been "on tour" to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Upon this return visit she decide to dedicate her life to a sort of public pyschodrama performance where she acted out the downside of the nasty behaviour she saw around her.

For the next forty years Christina managed to cause alarm and anxiety in her local community by performing Olympian spiritual exercises which included extreme prayer balanced on poles. She had no dress sense, ignored any protocols about workplace health and safety and refused to be tamed by doctors priests or any other well intentioned men of the town.
Yet, the records of the time also note that her advice was sought by both civic and religious leaders of her day.She was even summoned to the death bed of a local Count to hear his confession.

Like other popular residents of the celestial realm Christina had been provided with w series of patronages to keep her busy. It may not surprise readers that the list includes:

Christina has her own entry in Wikipedia and appears prominently in a Google search. She has been the subject of art, study and even song:
So, I invite you to join me on her feast day  as we celebrate Christina, a parable of the reign of God. The eccentric grace that drove her to extremes is the spirit in which I now invoke her as patron of "Holy Irritants".

In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. On Liberty John Stuart Mill

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Catholic Facebook group Promotes Islamphobia

It was so amazing to be at the rally for Palestine today. The reality of misinformation and Islamphobia in the Catholic Church has been highlighted by this item on the facebook page of Nationalrosaryforaustralia It would be too easy to unfriend people like this. I prefer to engage them with facts and denounce the values they represent in their litany of hate.

I hope those clergy and other Catholics who are mutual friends will also add their voice of protest to the sentiments of this group. It's time to challenge Islamphobia in my Church

The follwoing text is taken from the Nationalrosaryforaustralia Facebook page today:

Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia 10 hrs · Many jewish people have started returning to israel in thew last year or two due to rise of anti semitism in european countries LikeLike · · Share
Tony Robertson Many Palestinians would love to return to their homes but Israel has built a wall around their suburbs and now bombs their homes 5 hrs · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth 4 mins · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth 4 mins · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth

Why Catholics must speak out against Islamophobia

Friday, July 11, 2014


Students campaign for compassion in asylum seeker debate

Posted Fri 11 Jul 2014, 8:51pm AEST
Students from Rostrevor college have launched a social media campaign, saying they're in search of a compassionate Australian policy towards asylum seekers.


Msgr. Melchor Sanchez, undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Culture, holds a sign with the hashtag in front of the Vatican. Credit: Pontifical Council for Culture.
The Pontifical Council for Culture launched an effort designed to unite the world in asking for peace in warring countries by observing a moment of silence during the final game of the World Cup. 

“Sports were born around religious festivities. Sporting events were moments of peace when wars ceased, as for the Olympic truce,” Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda said July 10 for the launch of the campaign.

 “Why not for the World Cup? Why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?”

The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi took to social media to promote the initiative heading into the weekend. @cardinalravasi tweeted, “A still, small voice of silence” (1 Kings 19,12) #PAUSEforPeace #WorldCup2014

Read more at:

Now anyone with a name like  Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda  has to be worth a google search.It turns out that "Mellie" is quite a sporty pinup boy around the Vatican. He even donned some gear for the launch of the first Vatican Cricket team last year.

The Australian presence at the Vatican is bigger than George Pell in a Cappa Magna. St Peter's Cricket team is the dream child of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to the Vatican. According to the media release

.......... the St. Peter’s Cricket Club will field a team to play the Church of England at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London sometime next fall.
The aim is to boost interfaith dialogue, given cricket’s immense popularity in largely non-Roman Catholic India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It would be a “very special occasion” if seminarians from Rome’s pontifical universities might one day play students at Muslim or Hindu religious schools on the subcontinent, he said.
The initiative also is aimed at educating Italy, the Vatican and even Pope Francis “there is some sport other than football,” Mr. McCarthy said before passing around a tray of cucumber tea sandwiches, a mainstay of cricket events.
The club is expected to draw on 250-300 students and priests at the Vatican and pontifical universities around Rome where cricket is already being played informally; from these individual teams a Vatican one would be selected and fielded as early as the spring.

I wonder if the Vatican Cricket Team will get to bowl a maiden over?

Sport religion and politics are usually off limits at your friendly knitting club, however this is the year that the goalposts have shifted and everyone is in on the conversation.

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is publishing its 2014 statement in September titled: 2014-2015: A Crown for Australia 

2014-15-SJS-tempStriving for the best in our sporting nation

In a covering letter from Archbishop Densi Hart, the Australian Bishops acknowledge both the blessings and what they describe as the "darker side of sport: "violence on and off the field, abuse of drugs and alcohol,racism, sexism and commercial exploitation." It's a pretty good list although I wonder why they couldn't include homophobia as well?

So come September and we head off to the Grand Final with Geelong taking on whoever gets to meet us (LOL) we might include this statement in our ipad list of good reading.

I haven't watched the World Cup much but the invitation to pause for peace during the game is a good initiative which I hope gets plenty of support and commitment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Celebrating Anthony

One of the significant days of this month is June 13th, my patronal feast 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 boy should not be confused with the many other holy Anthonys who have front row seats in the celestial realm:St. Anthony / Anthony / St. Anthony the Abbot / Bl. Anthony Baldinucci / St. Anthony Dainan St. Anthony Daniel / Bl. Anthony della Chiesa / Bl. Anthony Fantosat / Bl. Anthony Francisco / St. Anthony the Hermit / St. Anthony Ishida / St. Anthony Kauleas / Bl. Anthony Kimura / Bl. Anthony Kiun / Bl. Anthony Manzi / St. Anthony Mary Claret / St. Anthony Mary Gianelli / St. Anthony Mary Pucci / St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria Bl. Anthony Middleton /St. Anthony Nam-Quynh / Bl. Anthony Neyrot / Bl. Anthony of Korea / St. Anthony of Saxony /Bl. Anthony of St. Bonaventure / Bl. Anthony of Tuy / St. Anthony Pechersky / St. Anthony Peter Dich / St. Anthony Primaldi / Bl. Anthony Sanga / Bl. Anthony Turner / Bl. Anthony Vom

My "Anthony" is a one of Catholicism's pin-up boys. He is patron for a number of a eternal chores including: against shipwrecks, against starvation, against starving, American Indians, amputeesanimalsassesbarrennessboatmenBrazildomestic animalselderly peopleexpectant mothersfaith in the Blessed Sacrament,  fishermenharvestshorseslost articleslower animalsmailmariners, oppressed people, pauperspoor peoplePortugalpregnant womensailors, seekers of lost articles, shipwrecks, starvation, starving people, sterility, swineherds, Tigua Indians, travel hostesses, travellerswatermen 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 featured in his own movie:

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 never really heard that 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 buyer although these days the neighbours might raise their eyebrows at an image of a grown man swooning with a near naked boy.Despite an attempt to theologise the image I suggest it is one that has well passed its use by date. The image 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 is 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.

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three. Bishop Bill Morris

Congratulations and thanks to Bill Morris, Eremitus Bishop of Toowoomba. on the publishing of this significant work, Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three.

The launch events should be great gatherings of people who are passionate about the Church and its place in contemporary society.
Details of the National Launch events are now available and I have linked to some good background reading.
The latest interview with Bill Morris has been published by the ABC Religion and Ethics Program on 11 June  here.

Launch details:
19 June
with Hon W J Carter
Carina Senior Citizens Club
6.30 for 7
23 June
Crypt, St Patricks at the Rocks
with Frank Brennan
6pm for 6.30
25 June
Parish Hall, Norwood
With Frank Brennan
7 for 7.30pm
26 June
Chapel, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
With Bishop Pat Power
7 for 7.30
4 July
JCR, Trinity College
With Maryanne Confoy
5.30 for 6pm
If you would like to attend a launch, email