Friday, December 08, 2006

Elle Pell, the Christmas Belle

Dear George Cardinal missed out on the President's job at the ACBC. However, that hasn't stopped him setting the pace in sartorial leadership among his brother bishops. Just look at this lace number he is wearing to bless the peasants in Sydney during Advent this year.

For those who think this is just a nice petticoat, let me assure you it is a standard item in any respectable bishop's BIR. It's correctly called a Rochet, a great word for scrabble. Will we see it at the 2007 Mardi Gras doing a dry run for WYD in 2008?



Last time George Cardinal set the pace for high camp dress code was during the World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne. Check out the reviews. You can also follow some blog comments. from the adoring faithful. George Cardinal has also helped to resurrect a few forgotten Catholic (and sometimes Anglican) words like biretta.

Not sure if there are vacancies for train carriers for the 2008 World Youth Day parades , but get your expressions of interest in now and beat the rush!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Which God Will We Serve At Christmas?

Which God Will We Serve At Christmas?

A reflection from Peter Arndt, Brisbane Catholic Justice and Peace Commission

In the Church, we are beginning to prepare for Christmas, a time when we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with Us; and our calling is to be a sign of the reality of God with Us. The god we are exhorted to serve in our modern consumer society encourages us to consume more and more. The true message of Christmas has been rejected by those who worship this false god. It’s a time when we are pressured to spend exorbitantly, to eat lavishly and drink to excess. Our God, the God of Jesus Christ, turns everything on its head. Our God is the help of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless. Jesus taught us that being close to God means turning our backs on accumulation of goods and wealth and sharing what we have with those who have little or nothing. As we wait in hope for the coming of God’s Reign of Peace, we are called to challenge the values of our consumer culture by being a sign of the true God with Us, the God we know through the person and message of Jesus.


What Values Will We Uphold?

In today's industrialized countries people are dominated by the frenzied race for possessing material goods. The consumer society makes the gap separating rich from poor even more obvious, and the uncontrolled search for a comfortable life risks blinding people to the needs of others. In order to promote the social, cultural, spiritual and also economic welfare of all members of society, it is therefore absolutely essential to stem the unrestrained consumption of earthly goods and to control the creation of artificial needs. Moderation and simplicity ought to become the criteria of our daily lives…


Pope John Paul II, 1993 Message for the World Day of Peace


What Can We Do?

Some suggestions for challenging our consumer culture this Christmas:

· Set aside a regular time of prayer and reflection for your household or neighbourhood over Advent

· Instead of giving gifts to each other, pool your money and donate it to agencies which support those who are poor in Australia and overseas

· Instead of purchased gifts, offer a “gift voucher” of a service, like cleaning or gardening, which you will provide to family and friends

· Give family and friends a letter telling them of your love for them and how you appreciate their personal gifts

· Focus on buying what food and drink will be needed for your Christmas celebration so that there is no wastage afterwards

· Invite an isolated person or the resident of an institution to your Christmas celebration

· Recycle Christmas cards, wrapping paper and packaging

· Boycott post-Christmas sales

· Don’t shop on any Sunday of the year that follows

· Contact your local Federal Member and the Prime Minister and urge them to:

- develop a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce poverty in Australia , especially the national scandal of Indigenous poverty;

- increase our foreign aid budget as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Church Fraternity Of Whips and Silks

It's Melbourne Cup time and today in Melbourne the racing fraternity will gather for its Annual Mass.

Today's Sunday Mail carries a feature story about Racing Fraternity Chaplain, Fr Brendan Dillon. During today's Mass we are told that Father Dillon will " bless a swag (sic) of silks, saddles, whips, goggles and other apparel as jockeys, owners and trainers seek divine help for Australia's great race."

Earlier this year champion jockeys including Darren Beadman, Danny Beasley and Jim Cassidy took part in a non-denominational mass (someone call in the liturgy police!!) to bless the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival on Sunday, 26 March, at Our Lady of the Rosary, Kensington. At this event, the AJC d in conjunction with the STC, welcomed people of all faiths and beliefs to attend the service. The mass blessed the racing fraternity for the STC’s Golden Slipper Festival and the AJC’s Tooheys New Easter Carnival.

Hey, how aboout our Gay Carnivals getting a Mass? If it's OK to bless the whips silks and other apparel of the racing community then let's have a blessing for the Rainbow Sashes and flags!!! We wouldn't mind a blessing for some of our other 'apparel" as well.

The Church seems happy to suspend judgement about some of the ethical issues that seem to be part of the racing fraternity such as gambling and animal cruelty. Why the reluctance of the religious stewards to suspend judgement about the same sex attracted fraternity?

We do have some signs of the Rainbow Colours receiving recognition by the Church. Back in 1997 World Youth Day in Paris the Pope was surrounded by Rainbow clad Cardinels, bishops and clergy who all seemed quite comfy in their apparel.

The question remains: Where have all these cool looking vestments gone? Is there a warehouse outside Paris storing them up for the next WYD in Sydney? Will George Cardinel strutt the stage at Randwick in full Rainbow colours splashing buckets of holy water over whips and goggles??

I should acknowledge that these great images were found on a hoot of a traditonal Catholic site.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Inter-religious Tensions

The Papal lecture at the Meeting with Representatives of the Sciences 12 September, 2006 at Regensburg, University is dominating religious commentary and inciting anger and protest among some Islamic communities. Here are a few helpful articles I have found from local and international sources:

Pope Benedict and Islam. Pope Backlash Deals Blow to Interfaith Ties – “The enraged response to the pope's speech last week, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who regarded teachings of Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," has dealt a stinging blow to decades of efforts by the Roman Catholic Church and others to ease tensions and open lines of communication between Muslims.”

Pope Benedict XVI and Islam – “… it is regrettable that in the midst of a well-worked out (of course) formal speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany, his old academic turf, the pope lapsed for a moment and did what we tenured folk sometimes do--and remember, the pope has lifetime tenure--we come up with an allusion that gets us in trouble, let a side point take center stage or fail to count the cost of a remark.” (Martin E. Marty, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School.)

Australia's moderate Muslims a sign of hope, Pell says
Pope’s Islamic stumble baffles the experts (Eureka Street 19-Sep-2006 By Daniel Madigan)

Join a public discussion about this isue
Dec 2006 Update: Date: 2006-12-20
Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address Hailed
REGENSBURG, Germany, DEC. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's lecture at Regensburg has been chosen "Address of the Year" in the German language. The decision was made by the Seminar der Allgemeine Rhetorik, the renowned School of General Rhetoric of the University of Tuebingen. According to this honor, one of the most prestigious prizes in the German language, the Sept. 12 address "is magisterially constructed in its direct composition" and multileveled. The school defended the "courage and determination with which the Pope produced his address, without the disposition to please and be accommodating, which often passes as dialogue." Many news media, taking out of context a quotation of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, presented the address as a condemnation of Islam. The jury, however, insisted that the address was "in reality about the relationship between reason and faith and affirmation of the Christian conviction that to act according to reason corresponds to the very nature of God."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

We Are Church in Redfern

Well done Peter Lalor, journo at The Australian for his report on the Catholic Community at Redfern. The heading and byline of his item are an accurate report of what is happening in the famous parish which is associated with the late Mum Shirl and Father Ted Kennedy: John Paul's words a weapon in parish war

Lalor writes in reference to the image which has been painted by local people: (Picture: James Croucher)

Garry Griffiths, a Redfern resident for the past 48 years and one of hundreds of Aborigines who had slept for years in the presbytery with the former priest, Father Ted Kennedy, was one of the artists.

A member of the Kamilaroi mob, he painted his totems: an emu and a goanna. He helped put the tree around the former pope's words.

"We had nowhere to plant one so we painted one," Griffiths explained.

On Sunday, scores of locals turned up for the special ceremony to mark Pope John Paul II's visit 20 years earlier. "Mate, I was so proud, it was the best turn-up we've had here for a long time," Griffiths said. "Our people's faces lit up when they saw it." But Father Prindiville's face fell noticeably. It was the latest act of rebellion in Redfern's religious war.

For latest reports and responses to the incident at the Church, keep your eye on the Church Mouse blog.

On this site you will find a full report of the celebration of the reception of the Message Stick in the Church including the text of Frank Brennan's homily and blessing of the mural.

You can read another interpretation of the Redfern Community on Ephram Chifley's blog
Indigenous mural shock at Redfern parish
Priest denies Redfern church is "for the Aboriginals"

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What do you give an Archbishop for his 70th Birthday?

John Alexius Bathersby, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, my adopted home town, was born in Stanthorpe on 26th July, 1936. Reaching 70 and in the home stretch of his run as Archbishop I thought it appropriate to add my best wishes and mark this event with a memorable gift.

It's not easy shopping for 70 year old celibate bishops at the best of times. Most of his material needs are provided in his workplace agreement and he gets to travel a fair bit so would have collected enough souvenirs and relics over the years. The job also comes with its own wardrobe of exotic and street wear, so he probably has a lifetime suply of "socks and jocks".

However it's a pretty safe bet he doesn't have a copy of 'Equality" the first CD compilaton from the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir. The Archbishop has taken an interest in the choir since it took up residence at St Mary's South Brisbane in 1998.

Back in 2003 the choir perfomed in the Church as part of the annual Pride festival. At the time the Archbishop expressed his opinion that such a performance was "offensive". Most of the offense was in fact carried by the staff at St Mary's who had to field abusive phone calls and threats from good catholics who seemed to have anger management problems.

The 'Equality" album shouldn't cause the Archbishop any offense. In fact I suspect he may find himself tapping away to the 13 tracks that include African, Traditional, Popular, Spiritual, Folk and Modern songs recorded under the musical direction of Marina Aboody Thacker, a talented local community artist and singer with vocal ensemble Petit Four.

The tunes and lyrics of popular and some new sounds are the stuff of life and give voice to the joys and hope, grief and anguish of all who struggle against social prejudice.

The Archbishop even gets a byline in the album notes. The clergy and community at St Mary's South Brisbane are also thanked for their support over the years.

The presence of the choir in a Catholic building should be acknowledged by all members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane as an example of one of the desired outcomes of the 2003 Synod that we become a more welcoming and inclusive Church

One of these rights is access to the spiritual treasures of the Church expressed in the practice of hospitality and sanctuary. For many in the choir, the physical act of entering a church building has been a major step across the divide of prejudice and homophobia that that continues to haunt the reality of Lesbian and Gay people.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Middle East Conflict A Christian Perspctive

In a statement released on July 20 through the Vatican press office, the Holy Father called upon "the pastors and faithful of all the particular churches, and believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace."

The Pope's statement listed specific petitions to be raised during the day of prayer and penance:

* for an immediate ceasefire,
* for the opening of humanitarian corridors allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid, and
* for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region."

Pope Benedict also encouraged relief agencies to provide help to those civilians caught up in the fighting.

The papal statement included a summation of the Holy See's viewpoint on the struggle:

In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.
Source: Catholic World News ( see responses to this item on the site)

I invite you to continue this prayer campaign by visiting the web site of the Peace Abbey
where you will find prayer texts from the major religions for peace.For any of those who are interested, Fr Dany Akiki, Parish Priest of St Maroun's Maronite Parish in Brisbane has warmly welcomed anyone who would like to join him and the Lebanese community at their Mass (English) on any Sunday at 6pm at St Maroun's Lebanese Maronite Church, 29 Bunya St., Greenslopes. He thanks the people of Brisbane for their prayers and support

If these were silent the Stones would shout out
A Statement on the Middle East by Australian Church leaders
1 August 2006

We find it impossible to remain silent in the face of so much pain and suffering in the Middle East, both in Lebanon and in Israel, but we have been particularly outraged by the news this morning of the deaths in the Lebanese village of Qana, no matter what its cause.

Where is the moral courage of our leaders? How can the leadership of the Australian Government and the Opposition not cry out for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire?

We are outraged that such unspeakable pain is being unleashed upon civilians, especially women and children, while the world remains largely silent.

Does it not occur to the Governments of Israel and the United States of America that the very possibility of a lasting, generational, peace is being made almost impossible while a new generation of youth are being accustomed to violence as a way of life.

We deplore the violence of Hezbollah and we deplore the violence of the State of Israel.

We find it impossible to understand how the leaders of our own nation have remained so cowardly silent in the face of such brutality.

We have had enough of this so called war on terror. When will the governments of the world come to understand that peace can only be built on justice and fairness?
We urge all governments of the world to invest in the millennium goals as the road to peace and to immediately apply them for the peoples of the Middle East.

We support the Christian leaders of Jerusalem in their recent call for an end to violence in the Middle East.

We can have no peace while violence is repaid with violence. It is a recipe for eventual annihilation.

May God have mercy upon us all and may there still remain, somewhere in that battered part of the world a seed which can one day grow into peace for the children who will soon become adults. May they not perpetuate the wrongs of the leadership of this generation.

Bishop George Browning, Anglican Church
Bishop Pat Power, Roman Catholic Church
Reverend Peter Walker, Uniting Church
Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ
Professor James Haire, Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

Contact: Alan Wilson (Bishop Browning's Executive Officer) on (02) 6248 0666 or alan.wilson@anglican.org.au or Bishop Pat Power on (02) 6201 9800 or pat.power@cg.catholic.org.au

They were not the only ones saying 'enough violence, time to talk' :

We, Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice, Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association, Lebanese Community Council, The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies brought together by our common humanity, people dedicated to peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, International Humanitarian Law and human rights, ask that our voice be heard.

Almost sixty years of bloodshed, violence, counter violence and many wars have not resulted in an end to the conflict, or an end to the pain and sufferings, to the killing of the innocents.

Buffer zones, mass retaliation, killing of civilians and oppression have not brought about lasting security or a just and equitable peace. There is a complex history of oppression and hurt for all peoples involved in the conflict, and it is counter-productive to blame one side or another.

Prospects for peace depend on resurrecting the value of dialogue and negotiation. History has shown that for entrenched cycles of violence to end, a willingness to meet in the spirit of common humanity is required. Israelis and Americans, Palestinians and Europeans, Arab politicians and United Nations representatives need to renew an interest in life rather than death. Realising these goals depends on a peace enhancing culture replacing the current preoccupation with violence and war. Only changed attitudes will enhance the possibilities of a ceasefire and a subsequent peace with justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.

All parties, including Israelis, Palestinians and Lebanese should adhere to a ceasefire across Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The long term solution is to build confidence and trust, the creation of an independent Palestinian State and a secure State of Israel. The UN resolutions already e xist to provide the framework for negotiation.

We urge the Palestinian, Lebanese and Israeli Leaders to respect the lives of civilians and to create an environment that is safe and secure for all. We urge the Israeli Government to ease the harsh conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

We, the concerned signatories to this statement, urge all people in Australia and the world to work together in bringing about a peaceful outcome to the problems of the Israeli-Palestinian issues. This can only come about by fresh thinking that is not based on past injustices and oppression, but on a commitment to a good life for all peoples in the region.

Our vision is that this document will contribute to continuing dialogue, between the signatories and others in Australia and around the world.

Enough violence, enough killing and enough suffering. Its time to listen, to hear and talk to one another.

For further information please contact:
Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice
Donna Jacobs Sife 0417241418
Lyndall Katz
Claire Jankelson 0401 156 321
Australian Arabic Palestinian Support Association Inc
Abe Quadan 0412 460 373
Lebanese Community Council
Elie Nassif 0425230649 96260162
Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies
Prof. Stuart Rees 9351 4763 9351 4468

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Take Hart,, O'Murchu Still Coming

Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart (no "e") is a big man with a big job. Luckily, the over-worked Archbishop seems to have willing minnions who post him updates from obscure corners of the world warning of religious terrorists who might unleash havoc in his Archdiocese.

On July 8 Denis withdraw his approval for the planned visit of a priest with the almost unpronouncable name of Diarmuid O’Murchu. It's worth reading the official version of events from the Edmund Rice Center Ameberley.

Update July 27: The Wellspring Centre in Melbourne is now sponsoring the workshops and they will be held at Janet Clarke Hall at the University of Melbourne. Further details can be found in the brochure.

Denis Hart (no "e") only needed to dust off his old copies of AD2000 to realize that the priest with the unpronounable name was going to be a the subject of many letters and missives. You just can't say this sort of stuff and not expect the Church police to report you:

"Where religions have failed most dismally is in their perception and understanding of the world, which they all tend to dismiss as an inferior, ungodly, and transitory reality. This cosmology goes right back to the Agricultural Revolution, which projected the original mechanistic image that the world was an object to be conquered and .controlled. Adopting this worldview, the religions concocted a self-inflationary, eschatological myth, whereby the world would come to nothing and the religions themselves would triumph. What was intended to be an instrument of God became a god in its own right; religion became an outrageous form of idolatry" Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu in his book Quantum Theology

"Once we begin to understand and internalize the sacredness of life from within--ourselves, our planet, and our universe--then the classical academic search for an external agent may become quite irrelevant."

"We stood upright about 2 million years ago and in our presently developed state have been around about 200,000 years. For most of that time we lived in open spaces surrounded by the mysteries of grass, trees, stone and stars. Now we live indoors and our minds are so cluttered with scientific reductionism and utilitarian functionalism we are bereft of imagination and a supportive sense of the true history of our kind."
"Modern living now has nearly completely curtailed the unlimited possibilities of the fascination with mystery. We don't need to return to living outdoors, but rather to look at what's right under our noses. Our human sexuality was once perceived as a component of the spiritual, indeed a central aspect of it."
"Ours is a culture rife with addiction because we are deprived of mysticism. In the Catholic church also we have had what I call 'celibate rationality.' This legacy from several centuries in our theology maintains that God has nothing to do with sexuality, so celibates shouldn't either. It counsels us to transcend eroticism and passions, not integrate them responsibly into our living. This old view of celibacy is crippling and destroying people's lives."
"Our current labels for sexual identity --heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual--were all devised recently, in the late 1800s, by psychiatrists. Before that, sexuality was always considered to be a continuum, without boundaries. Many cultures still honor the transgendered, for example, in the figure of the berdash in Native American cultures or the hijra in South India. The challenge for our times is rethinking our own rigid categories."
There's an urgent need to generally reconceptualize what sexuality is and what it's about. Failing to recognize that sexuality is something archetypal, our sense of it is inadequate and has become corrupt. When we honor the sacred mystery of sexuality, we embrace the deepest human mystery and God's divine mystery both..... when our consciousness about sexuality changes, then the church will come along...... and more
Interview
Extract from Reclaiming Spirituality: A New Spiritual Framework for Today's World
You should also take some time out to read O'Murchu's paper: The New Age and Mainstream Christianity

Monday, June 26, 2006

Peter Cross RIP

I join fellow blogger David Shutz in remembering the contribution of the late Peter Cross to the ecumenical movement in Australia. During my years in Melbourne, Peter was a priest I admired and respected.
In the midst of joy, we are in grief at the death of an outstanding worker in the vineyard of ecumenism, Fr Peter Cross. Fr Cross died on Saturday night at 9:50pm. He is a great loss to the Ecumenical Movement around the world, particularly in Anglican Catholic relationships as a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and most recently in the preparation of the joint statement “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” . Rest in Peace, Peter.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Remembering "The Mons"

The great aussie habit of abbreviating honorific titles in Church circles probably works best in Catholicism where such oddities abound. For generations the elder priest in a community who rose to the rank of Monsignor has been known as "The Mons" Readers from outside the tradition may be more familiar with the title from Christopher Reeves worst movie.

Well today, June 26th is the 50th anniversary of the death of a national treasure who is slowly being reclaimed as one of Australia'a most interesting Monsignori, John Hawes.

The life of this truly remarkable man has inspired me for many years.I first came across him in a set of his writings published in the now defunct Capuchin Annual. He also featured in a BBC production screened in the early 1970s which seems impossible to trace now.

Known as the Hermit of Cat Island, Hawes has left the Australian community a legacy in architecture and spirituality that we have yet to explore and discover. I invite you to celebrate this anniversary by taking some time to learn about and promote the life of this man of God who died as a Franciscan tertiary,Fra Jerome.

Online Articles:

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Roman Cardinal misses Brisbane Pride March

In beautiful Rome, the Pontifiical Council for the Family has Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo as its colouful and vocal President. The good Cardinal has a habit of reminding Vatican officials about the correct use of condoms and the place of homosexuals in the family which creates some havoc in the Press Office.He also has a wonderful wardrobe of party gear and a penchant for funny hats.

Due to a hectic schedule rumoured to include family plannng advice to Nicole Kidman, the Cardinal missed out on an opportunity to lead the Brisbane Pride March on June 17. However, in his absence a group of attractive young men from a similar organisation rallied to the cause. Although they lacked the Cardinal's dress sense, they matched his literary output with a series of home made encyclicals for the day.They also demonstated their amazing vocal range which rivaled any cheer squad at an AFL finals series.

Like much of the good Cardinal's writings, the young evangelists stirred a bit of interest and public debate for a few moments until real life caught up with the rest of us who had come along to celebrate the 17th Annual Pride March in Brisbane.

I have published a set of the images of the day and will be posting off the link to the Cardinal in case he wants to include any in future publications of his Council. I'm sure he'll love the family shots and the images of the fervant young protesters, one of whom has trouble spelling Sodom.Perhaps there is a distance course in Biblical terms close to home for this young man..

Another great event during this month of celebrations included a public meeting with Justice Michael Kirby. Congratulations to the Metropolitan Community Church, one of the sponsoring bodies of the evening.I don't think Cardinal Trujillo nor the young evangelists have ever been to a service at MCC.However for many people who identify among sexual minorities, this is a community of faith where they hear the Gospel proclaimed and experience the life of a Christian community.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

William T Cavanaugh

Dr William Cavanaugh, Associate Professor of Theology atUniversity of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA) was in Brisbane on June 7 as part of the Dom Helder Camara Lecture Series. I went to one session whch introduced me to a guy who has much to offer in the discussion about politics and religion in our community. We also share a passion for a Church where where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Dr William Cavanaugh was educated in theology and religion at Notre Dame, Cambridge and Duke Universities. His dissertation for his PhD at Duke “Torture and Eucharist in Pinochet’s Chile” drew on his experiences living in Chile in the 1980s and was developed into the highly-acclaimed book “Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics and the Body of Christ,” which reflects on the Church, the Eucharist and politics within the context of the Pinochet regime. A well known writer on theology, the church and politics, his other books include “Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism” and “The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology” edited with Peter Scott.

Now, there's a story behind the picture of Bill Cavanaugh. Most of the images used in the PR for his tour show a pretty slick looking "all American" lad. How ever, I found this one on a site that is headed The Church and the Liberal Tradition. It includes links to a number of Cavanaugh's essays and the following item:

Cardinal Pell and the Theology of the Nation State: "What is happening in the relationship between church and state when Christians, who struggle to define their place in the secular, pluralist nation state, suddenly find one of their number a recipient of the nation's top honour precisely because of his Christian leadership?" - Radio discussion w. Cardinal George Pell, Margaret Coffey, William Cavanaugh.[transcript] Sunday 26 June 2005.

View one of his articles (PDF 31kB) Enough is Enough.

Torture and Eucharist

In Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (Blackwell, 1998), William T. Cavanaugh describes the situation of the Catholic Church in Chile under the Pinochet regime, 1973-1990.

Liturgy as politics

Violence, Religion, and the State” William Cavanaugh Draft only – not for citation

Now for those who got past the preferred definition of Church in the first paragraph and are still a little perplexed, I suggest you drop in on the Lake Woebegone Effect

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pope Remembers Jews Forgets Gays


There is no doubt that one of the most moving scenes of the recent papal visit to Poland was the presence of Pope Benedict at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz

However we have yet to hear a Papal lament for the Gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, targeted by Nazis during the Holocaust. When will we see the Pope at any of the Gay Holocaust Memorials?

The story of our brothers and sisters holocuast is well documented and yet rarely told.

The European Parliament marked the anniversary of the Holocaust in 2005 with a minute of silence and the passage of this resolution:

"the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where hundreds of thousands of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, Poles and other prisoners of various nationalities were murdered, is not only a major occasion for European citizens to remember and condemn the enormous horror and tragedy of the Holocaust, but also for addressing the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism, and especially anti-Semitic incidents, in Europe, and for learning anew the wider lessons about the dangers of victimizing people on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion, politics, or sexual orientation."

A memorial, to be built in Vienna in 2007, will feature a large basin filled with pink water and will be built at Morzinplatz, the former Gestapo headquarters, according to the Associated Press.

It is not the first public memorial to represent the large number of gay people killed at the concentration camps.

A similar sculpture was unveiled in the United States in 2003, while Germany finally approved its own monument to recognize gay victims later that year, despite ongoing arguments between gay rights groups and their opponents.

Germany also gave a formal pardon to the 50,000 gay people convicted under Nazi rule in 2002, and acknowledged that the total number of gay people sent to concentration camps could well have been 20,000.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Social Analysis and Faith

Spent a really inspiring morning at a Peter Henriot Workshop – Bringing Justice Alive From A Christian Perspective. Introduced us to a "must see" web: The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia. Some of the really useful documents available on the site address the issue of HIV AIDS.

Fr Henriot, has lived for nearly 20 years in Zambia - one of the poorest countries in the world. He argues that to respond effectively to social issues, Christians and people of good will need to move from a model of charity to a model of justice at the core of their living and acting.


The ‘pastoral cycle’ has been developed by base-level Christian communities across the developing world, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It has been used as a tool for evangelization in the liberation theology mode.

Also participated intheBrisbane Social Forum which I have been supporting since it's beginnings five years ago.

Back here on the home front, a group of Christian leaders has issued
a radical ‘confession’ looking at what it means to follow Jesus Christ in today’s world of deception, division and violence.

They argue that the Gospel is a message of both personal and social transformation, and their document’s signatories include people from the Anabaptist, Anglican, Catholic, Weslyan and Baptist traditions


This is the sort of material that needs to be published in Church newspapers like the Catholic Leader and the Catholic Weekly. However, I won't be holding my breath waiting for their editors to bite this bullet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

International Day Against Homophobia


Today, May 17 we celebrate 2nd International Day Against Homophobia. This initiative encourages communities to do three things:

1 Take action to raise awareness of homophbia in the community.


2 Engage in a global awareness raising campaign.


3 Have this day included in national and international calendars.


Last year I wrote to the Catholic Bishops of Australia requesting that they include this day in their diocesan calendars.

This year I am posting this reminder to discussion forums and individuals with the request that more Australians endorse the "For an International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Petition to UNO (United Nations Organization) and all States, Governments and Parliaments My passion for this campaign comes out of personal experience of the malice of individuals and groups who have misrepresented me in publications from the Lepanto League of Australia and the Festival of Light.
“I believe in getting into hot water - it helps keep you clean.”G K Chesterton

Poscript May 18
I published this item on a Catholic Discussion Forum where it was ignored by most participants, but managed to attract enough attention to justify its presence!! here are some typical good catholic responses to my post.

Do You think we could have a day against hetrophobia......NT
Posted by Herman on May 17, 2006, 3:46 pm, in reply to "International Day Against Homophobia"210.49.215.187


Oh Hear, hear ! Re: Do You think we could have a day against hetrophobia......NT
Posted by Eve on May 18, 2006, 3:46 pm, in reply to "Do You think we could have a day against hetrophobia......NT"203.39.81.7
Peace be with you Herman !
I'm so sick of the obssession that the homosexual posters have with homo.sex that is dipicted in almost all of their messages posted on this board !!!
Get a life homosexual posters and while you're at it, strive to make it Eternal
Eve


Tony, don't assume pwople are homophobic, you deny them their right to hate what is evil i.e.
Posted by Moses on May 18, 2006, 3:41 pm, in reply to "International Day Against Homophobia"203.39.81.7
homosexuality AND NOT homosexuals per se.
After all, God tells us in the Holy Bible to "hate what is evil". "No man can serve two masters" Tony and you shouldn't emotionally blackmail people into doing so either !!
We have the Right to Religious Freedom; the Truth is Tony, very few people actually fear homosexuals; only some men fear being raped or as homos. call it, being converted to your filthy way of life !!
People simply hate the Devil in homosexuals and also what homos. do which God says is evil !
It's in the Holy Bible Tony, read it for your self !!
Digest that, if you can !
Moses

Update May 24 Here we are, a week after the International Day Against Homophobia and our Prime Minister again voices his prejudice:


The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has denounced comments made by John Howard in Ireland overnight that the campaign for relationship equality and gay marriage in Australia amounts to “minority fundamentalism”, calling the PM’s remarks offensive and out of touch with real Australian values.

A Newspoll conducted by the Australian Secular Party showed that most Australians support the recognition of same-sex relationships, and the removal of the widespread financial and non-financial discrimination against gays and lesbians”.

David Scamell added, “There is growing support within Howard’s Government for the recognition of same-sex relationships. When he returns from overseas, the PM must show leadership and start to properly remedy the discrimination that exists against same-sex couples”.

More comments from the Cath News Discussion Forum

Monday, May 08, 2006

Science and Religion

Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno says believing God created the universe in six days is a form of "pagan superstition."

Consolmagno told the Scotsman the idea that religion and science are competing principles is a "destructive myth."

Consolmagno works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy.

He is keenly aware of the renewed interest in creationism taking hold in America – particularly among evangelical Christians who take the Bible – including the Genesis account of creation -- literally.

Consolmagno described creationism as a "kind of paganism" because it is similar to the idea of "nature gods" who pagans believed to be responsible for natural events.

"Knowledge is dangerous, but so is ignorance," he said. "That's why science and religion need to talk to each other."

Consolmagno stated that the Christian God is a supernatural god. In the past, the belief in God being supernatural led the clergy to become involved in science to find natural explanations for things like thunder and lightning. Pagans often attribute thunder and lightning to vengeful gods.

"Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism — it's turning God into a nature god," he said. "And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do."

Read this "Guy's" stuff!!

Saints and Sanctity

The Church's veneration of the saints is a necessary part of its life and work. Otherwise there would be a danger of looking upon sanctity as an abstraction. The saints help us to see how the Gospel can be incarnated and lived in many different ways and under many different social and historical circumstances. The basic mystery of Christianity after all, is not that God has created a world different from God, and in which God must be served and glorified, but rather that grace, which is identical with God has permeated the world with God's own presence. - Karl Rahner.

A few years ago the relics of Therese of Lisieux toured Brisbane. She's no rock icon and she hasn't made the cover of New Idea, but this girl just keeps popping up in Catholic Culture as regular as celibate clergy. Is it macabre to cart around the remains of our sister? I know families who hold onto the ashes of loved ones and keep them in the family home. This whole tour is a bit like taking the ashes of a loved family member around to the "rellies" for a good old family get together.

The relics are carried in a pretty cool looking chest which gives quite a bit of dignity to the reality of human remains.

Only Catholics could do this and get away with it!! It has all the hallmarks of a religious circus with expectations of miracles, guest appearances by famous and "wanna be" Catholics and great sponsorship deals with Funeral Companies!! All in all, it's a harmless bit of Catholic eccentricity that brings people together, reminds us that there is another realm to our lives and proves that everything that comes out of France doesn't have to be edible or sexy.

Friday, April 28, 2006

New resource for Building Communities of Faith and Justice


Compassionate Community Work

In “Compassionate Community Work”, Dave Andrews has provided a truly remarkable and comprehensive resource for teaching and learning about community development. This “introductory course on community work for churches”, is much more than a text book. It is an invitation to participate in an experiential, highly practical, spiritually rich, and potentially life-changing learning process

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Feast of St Joseph the Worker and Labour Day 1st May 2006

Feast of St Joseph the Worker and Labour Day 1st May 2006

I led a prayer service at St Mary's South Brisbane prior to the Labour Day march. For those who don't know much about the Catholic community at South Brisbane and it's ability to stir more than the possum, I suggest you visit Dreadnought, whose frenzied attack on our local Church includes a descriptor of me as a "communist crank". Well, it's a lot to live up. I'm more comfortable with "Holy Irritant".


For our prayer, we gathered around our new community banner and an open copy of the Scriptures. We silently used the sign of the cross as our gathering ritual and acknowledged the Indigenous Owners of the land on which we gathered. We sang They'll Know We Are Christians, an old favourite which enough of us could sing from memory. The readings of the day for the feast of St Joseph, the Worker provided food for reflection. Our prayers and petitions included those used in the Church last week for the International Day of Mourning:

We concluded our prayer in a circle around the banner singing "We Shall Overcome" for as Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Romans: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21) and nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither legislation, nor exploitation, nor injustice.

I have uploaded my collection of images from Monday's Labour Day Celebraton. If you need ahigher resolution copies, please feel free to let me know. Any use of the images in the public domain, should include the caption: "Tony Robertson, Community Photographer"

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Easter Message from the Chapel of the Holy Irritant

Easter 2006!!! It's that time of the year again. The mob are somewhat overwhelemed by the combination of Chocolate, a full moon and the anticipation that comes with the Bert compering the Logies yet again.

Religion has been the preferred choice of the media this month as the wannabe experts get themselves into a lather over the discovery of the Judas Gospel. Also worth a read is this transcript from The World Today. The program is broadcast around Australia at 12:10pm on ABC Local Radio. This interview includes ELEANOR HALLwith Father John Flader from the Catholic Adult Education Centre in the Sydney Archdiocese and Dr Malcolm Choat from Macquarie University.

Meanwhile back at Vatican City the real scoop of the month is the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church complete with piccies and quotable quotes. Bit more commentary on this volume at: Sentire cum Ecclesia: The Compendium is here!

Well, I waited a few days and managed to pick my copy up with a $3 discount from the cute seminarian that helps out at our local St Paul's Bookshop here in Brisbane. Now, there's quite a saga about the poor old bookshop. During the very expensive fit out of the new Francis Rush Centre Father Bruno and his staff including the effusive Heather were all relocated to a cavern that fronts the dead end of Elizabeth Street. Usually there are more people laying on the grass topped roof in the sun than browsing the shelves underneath. However they continue to "soldier on" in the most remote outpost of the Catholic Centre in Brisbane.

So, back to the Compendium of the Catholic Catechism. It's quite a neat looking volume with a good collection of images that were apparently hand picked by B16 hisself!! It shows.Papa has a very Euro-centric taste and there is nothing from any other continent and nothing from contemporary religious art.

The text is faithful to the original Catechism using the late Archbishop D'Arcy's preference for exclusive male langugae for God and humanity It also has a series of blue boxes of quotable quotes. Once again, I ask myself, where is the wisdom of the women? Every single quote is from an old cleric of some fame and the most recent quoted cleric is dear old John Vianney (1786-1869)who scored the parish of Ars !!

My next quandry was where to locate this volume? Shelf space is now a premium and short of a devestating cull,I feared it may have to sit on top of some other texts for a while. However, some clever re-stocking and here it is right next to its big sister volume and close to some of the more interesting contemporary thinkers in Christianity today. The more observant among you will alos recognize that it is supported at one end with the classic Butler's Lives of the Saints and right at the end of the shelf is , yes, it is!! good old Fulton Sheen's These Are The Sacraments.

However, the volume that really stands out on this shelf has to be a 1958 edition of Fortescue-O'Connell's The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described.
I hear you ask,"how does one come by such a volume? Well, that's a tale of its own. The book is stamped with "Chrsitin Brothers Wagga" and came into my hands via a former cleric now living outside Canberra. More details in my last will and testament.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Introduction to The Holy Irritant Chapel

Welcome! A bit of background about the Holy Irritant:(regularly updated and expanded)

Born Catholic and given the baptismal patrons of Anthony and Gerard, two men who never had sex and died young. Continued the custom begun by my parents and chose another male patron for my confirmation who never had sex and died young, Dominic Savio. 

March 8 marks the anniversary of my baptism at the Church of St John the Evangelist in 1953.

Part of Catholic culture at the time of my birth was to name children after great saints This was my parents choice rather than dedicate me to Troy Donahue or even "Bing Crosby" one of my father's idols. Family lore tells that I was entitled to be called "Alexander" in the custom of my father and grandfather as a first born son. However, Irish Catholicism won the day and I was named in honour of St Anthony (of Padua) and St Gerard (Majella). Both these men have been associated with working among the poor and being pretty passionate about life. Pity most of the popular images of such men portray them as insipid blokes with total disinterest in the world around them.

My parents initiated me into a Catholicsm that continues to be a core community of faith and challenge in my life. At the heart of this community are relationships that have nurtured and sustained my questions, my passions and my spirituality. Finding these relationships has been a life long journey from the Irish clericalism that dominated my Primary education through the machismo of life at a Christian Brothers College and the exposure to a global vision in a community of Capuchin Friars. My mentors in faith have included women like Margaret Oats, "Mum" Shirl, Dorothy Day.

The power of symbol in Catholicism has always attracted me and came home to me when my parents renovated our family home some years ago. During my childhood in the era prior to the Vatican Council, the living room in our family home was dominated by the image of the Sacred Heart. The eyes of the image could spot you wherever you were in the room. When the house was renovated in the 70's the picture was moved to a discrete position above the front entrance where it would be the last image seen by visitors leaving the house. This was particularly effective for JW's and Mormons as most visitors used the back door. What is more interesting is that the space in the living room which had been home for the Sacred Heart for almost 25 years was taken up with a mirror. The new image reflected God's eyes in the members of our family.

I make a clear distinction between the faith community of Catholicism and the structural processes which have contributed to much of the alienation of family and friends from the Church. The popular metaphor of "supermarket Catholicism" where we pick and choose what we need is more appealing than the fixed menu at an exclusive restaurant. which seems to be the preferred model for Church leaders such as Cardinal George Pell . Our history suggests that we have failed to feed the hunger of the diversity of the human family for whom Jesus lived and died.

I have been Catholic across two countries three states, four Archdioceses one religious order, numerous professional associations, groups and everything Catholic!!!I remain "in the Church" because I cannot be elsewhere. I have a right by baptism to membership and participation in this community. Its ambiguity and its weakness are part of my reality and give me a context for personal conversion and commitment to maturity. I remain as a "holy irritant" among those who conserve a stifling patriarchy. I live my faith as a a gay man challenging the theology and practices that have alienated sexual minorities for too long. My sexuality has been a catalyst for moving into a religious commitment that takes me to the edge of the church. At the edge I find a new centre that offers opportunities and relationships affirming that which the church denies and I find a vision of the Divine which embraces new realities and great dreams for the planet and humanity.


Ss Peter and Paul's Ashby, Geelong West where my parents met and married. The parish where I joined the Altar Servers, the Crusaders of the Blessed Sacrament and the Tennis Club which was the first catholic group I joined that included girls! As a young boy I was member of the choir which in those days was accompanied by a young Roger Heagney who would go on to lead St Francis Church Choir in Melbourne.





Peak experiences include:

  • Suffering Catholic Trauma at my first communion mass with the anxiety of the host getting stuck in the roof of my mouth
  • Endless childhood confessions admitting to sins I could barely pronounce
  • Induction into the Guild of St Stephen by the famous Guilford Young at our first National Conference for Altar Boys (as we were in those days !!)in 1964.
  • Taking vows of poverty chastity and obedience in a Franciscan community with the Capuchin Friars and then discovering that 2 out of three wasn't a pass.
  • Falling in love with Bing Crosby instead of Julie Andrews

Education History
St John's Primary School, North Geelong
St Patrick's Primary School, West Geelong
St Joseph's College Newtown
Catholic Theological Union Hunters Hill
Australian Catholic University McAuley Campus