Tuesday, December 25, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

There are quite a few things I really like about Catholicism. Amongst others, it has nurtured in me a love of theatre and ritual in my life. The cycle of religious festivals with appropriate colours, symbols and texts provide a rich stimulus to imagination as well as feeding the never ending questions of life.

Christmas is, without doubt far more exciting than Easter. I know the liturgical police and the theological prudes will chase me through the corridors of fidelity for uttering such a heresy. But, let’s face it, cribs, carols, trees, candy cane and the spirit, if not the presence of St Nick all work together to provide a lot more excitement than an empty tomb. And we get 12 days to celebrate as well. I always use this as an excuse for sending Christmas Cards right up until January 6th. Wish someone would tell Australia Post about the 12 Days deal so we could continue using the Christmas stamps after December 31st.

Each year I join the universal competition to provide the mother of all cribs. In my young adult years I lived with a community of capuchin Franciscan Friars where I was introduced to some of the popular European customs in which the Nativity setting became the impetus for creating an electronic metropolis complete with flying objects and a night sky that would have blown Galileo away.

This year at Casa Robertson’s Domestic Church I have set up my Nativity scene on top of one of my bookcases after consulting the Vatican Feng Shui web site. The main figurine of a very tall Joseph embracing Mary and the Christ Child is from Kenya. My angel form Peru is grounded rather than perched on the roof and is playing a set of pan pipes. The shepherds have a bit of trouble getting to the main area due to the presence of assorted characters including the Flintstones and Batman. Other visitors at the scene include a small carved figure of St Francis brought back from Japan and a couple of miniature dolls presented to me by the first Korean students at ACU McAuley.

The most popular figure in my Nativity scene with some visitors is the Power Ranger who gets moved all over the place to watch over the gathering and monitor the behavior of the dinosaurs, kangaroos and mermaids.

Out of view (as you would expect) are the “Three Kings”. They are currently on the other side of the room near the TV and will slowly progress to the crib to arrive on schedule for the Epiphany on January 6th. One year I was away and had an external Nativity. A neighbor took on the task of moving the “Three Kings” through the garden to arrive on time. I really think she ducked out late on the night of Jan 5th and gave them an express run through the shrubbery.

I feel sorry for the poor old “There Kings”. They don’t really get to make much of an appearance as everything gets taken down and put away that night in accordance with a tradition handed down by my wise old grandmother.

Over the 12 Days of Christmas that lead up to Jan 6th, I hope to present a small reflection on one of the nativity settings in y neighborhood and city here in Brisbane.

So, I hope you are able to enjoy the 12 days of Christmas which take us into the New Year with its promise of joy and peace.

2nd Day of Christmas: December 26th: Feast of St Stephen
On my way to the train this morning for the patronal feast day Mass of the Cathedral in Brisbane, I walked through my local shopping centre. At the Coles supermarket there was a frenzy of activity as staff climbed ladders and brought in boxes to pack up the Christmas decorations.

I tried to explain the 12 Days idea to one of the fresh faced workers and was greeted with a slightly blank expression. I didn't dare ask what school she attended in case someone from the "other place" reads this and says" "told you so about Catholic Schools".LOL

At the station as I waited for my train I struck up a conversation with one of the young boys who had been at the local primary school when I worked there for a few years. He is now a full blown teenager with a hangover. Must be something about having "been there" and done that" written all over me.The trip to the city saw me doing the older adult advice on how to drink sensibly with a young man who consumed far too many drinks too quickly with no food and no water breaks. Do they teach sensible drinking habits in Catholic Schools these days?

I was lucky as the Christian Brothers in Geelong built their College within walking distance of the Golddiggers Arms and most of the staff were old boys who seemed to take their responsibility of initiating the next generation with some duty of care.Will they have a special drink for WYD?

So, meanwhile back at the Feast of St Stephen, which I celebrate each year now at what is possibly the only Cathedral in Australia named in accordance with Fowler's Modern English Usage. Brisbane's Cathedral of St Stephen is so named to avoid the notion that St Stephen owns the place as in Dooley's Pub (which is now known sadly as the Valley Pub).

As well as celebrating the patronal feast of the Archdiocese, December 26th is the birthday of a colourful Brisbane identity, Mick Sullivan. Mick is a veteran of the old school of Labor Catholics and can probably match local hero Cliff Baxter for characters and anecdotes that live on in the imagination.There must be something about the name Mick Sullivan because a google search will provide you with a lifetime of reading of wonderful characters with that moniker, none of whom resemble our local product in Brisbane.

And so to the image with this post. It's the striking Nativity Scene installed at the edge of the Sanctuary in the COSS. The congregation at the Cathedral is a constant source of wonder and amazement. It is quite a cosmopolitan group with young Asian students,backpackers, Japanese Tourists, elderly people, a sprinkling of veiled Missionaries of Charity and the now unveiled Canossian Sistersall belting out a selection of carols to one of the best organs in any public building in the city.

It is quite an experience to sit in a full Cathedral the day after Christmas surrounded by faithful companions.Their greetings and spirit were quite a contrast to the crowds armed with their "boxing day bargains" I had to push through on my way back to the train.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

‘Seduced by Grace: Contemporary spirituality, Gay experience and Christian faith’

Seduced by Grace: contemporary spirituality, gay experience and Christian faith
by Michael B Kelly

The book is available from , Hares and Hyenas Bookstore63 Johnston St. Fitzroy 3065 Victoria Australia tel+61 3 9495 6589and also from Readings, Carlton

These are the passionate despatches of a reporter from one of the most hostile – for gay men and women – regimes on earth: the Catholic church. Michael Kelly has come out but stayed in. His indictment of the church is stark but his vision of what it might become has the power to move even hardened atheists. – David Marr

Every chapter in this book is an invitation. Its thoughts and stories carry you over and over again into a deeper place where you can reflect on your own life and, indeed, universal life. At one point, its author observes ‘…religious talk is about religious talk. Life becomes a footnote.’ Life is never a footnote for Michael Kelly. His close experience of the engaging of religion with life is both challenging and inspiring. I couldn’t put this book down, not just because it relates to my own story but because it is authentic, vulnerable, yet life-giving. It does not demand that you agree, but gently and profoundly opens up the questions within a brave and faithful journey. Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon

Michael Kelly writes with great precision and poignancy of a yearning which everyone shares. A yearning for love, both physical and spiritual. A yearning for completion. In this wonderful collection of essays, Kelly seduces the reader with his insights into those fleeting moments in which we encounter the greatest mystery of all. – Dr Fiona Capp

In these collected writings – essays, articles, letters, talks – Michael Kelly invites us into an intimate exploration of the inner wisdom and radical challenge of Christianity. In reflections that take us from the fields of Nicaragua to the ‘War on Terror’, from the joy of erotic pleasure to the challenge of rebuilding the church, Kelly gives voice to a spirituality of desire, grounded in justice and love. Michael Kelly is a freelance writer, activist, counsellor and educator, known internationally for his ministry in spirituality, sexuality and human integration.

This new book presents Michael Kelly’s collected writings and lectures, composed over a ten year period. Exploring contemplative spirituality, erotic grace, prophetic activism, gay experience, and the soulful challenges of contemporary living, this collection is a major new contribution from the author of The Erotic Contemplative lecture series.

Publisher: Clouds of Magellan

Title distributed by Bulldog Books

Publisher: Gordon Thompson – 0423 625 760 – rediris@vicnet.net.au

Author: Michael Kelly – 0437 974 386 – mbkell@ozemail.com.au [Kelly in US till early December – make email contact directly for interviews]

Apology to Gay Activist from Catholic Media Service

[ Post a Comment | CathNews ]

In August 2007 a participant in the Cathnews discussion board filed a post referring to Mr Tony Robertson, which was on 15.10.07 brought to our attention by Mr Tony Robertson as amounting to ‘sexuality vilification’. Cathnews regrets that this offending post was not noticed by the moderator. Cathnews apologises unreservedly to Mr Tony Robertson for any hurt or offence that was caused by the post.

Contact the Administrator

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Aquinas Memorial Lectures

In March 1944, eleven years after the opening of the Aquinas Library, the inaugural Aquinas Lecture, entitled "Aquinas and Modern Practices of Interest Taking", was delivered by Mr John P. Kelly in the rooms of the Aquinas Library with the Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir William Webb, as Chairman.

From then until 1950 an Aquinas Lecture was delivered each year. The new series of the Aquinas Memorial Lectures was established in 1979 by the Aquinas Library and continued by the Australian Catholic University McAuley Campus. The details of these subsequent lectures are listed below. Also available is "The Rise and Fall Of The Aquinas Library" by Frank Hills.

NOTE: Not all the lectures are available. Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Word is required to view the full text of those that are available.

Aquinas Lectures

2006 "Ethics sans frontieres: the vocation of global citizenship" by (Rev Dr) Noel Preston AM, BA, BD, M Ed(hons), ThD.
2004 "Building Capacity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community in Health: Meeting the Challenge" by Associate Professor Cindy Shannon and Auntie Joan Hendriks.
2003 "Cash, Merit or Scholarship in the 21st Century University" by Professor Peter Spearritt.
2002 "Ecclesia: challenges for Asian Christianity" by Professor Peter Phan.

"Federation, Reconciliation, and the Future", by Phil Glendenning.

2000 "Towards Christian Unity - Love Lights the Way", by Pastor John Vitale.

"The Pathos and Paternity of God", by Bishop James Foley.

1998 "Collective responsibility and reconciliation with Australia's Indigenous peoples", by Professor Raimond Gaita.
1997 "The Challenge of Ethical Health Care Delivery in the Current Economic Climate", by Mr. M. Avery.

"Ethics in Public Life", by R.S. O'Regan Q.C.


"Euthanasia: Christian Morality and Today's Cultural Mores", by Dr. Bernadette Tobin. (This lecture was not published).

1994 "The Teacher of Irish Nationality: Thomas Davis 1814-1845", by Professor John Molony.
1993 "Catechisms in the Making: Questions and Answers in the Eighth Century and Today", by Dr. Joseph Munitiz S.J.
1992 "Whatever Could Make a University Catholic", by Professor Helen Sungaila. (This lecture was not published).

"Building other Towers: Archbishop Robert Dunne in Colonial Queensland", by Rev. Dr. Neil J. Byrne.


"Borromini: Genius of the Baroque", by Rev. Peter Grice. (This lecture was not published).


"St Stephen's Restored", by Very Rev. Frank Moynihan.


"Michelangelo Returns to Glory", by Dr. Walter Persegate. (This lecture was not published).

1987 "Embodiment and Incarnation: Notes on Preparing an Anthology of Australian Religious Verse", by Mr Les Murray.

"The Ascent of Tabor: Writing the Life of Archbishop Duhig", by Rev. Dr. T.P. Boland.

1985 "Boree Log: Early Australian History in the Poems of John O'Brien", by Rev. Frank Mecham.
1984 "Chinese Society Since Mao: Religion and Family", by Professor Colin Mackerras.
1983 "The Meaning of Dr Mannix", by Rev. Edmund Campion.

"Church Law 1982: Farce Fiction or Freedom?", by Rev. Dr. O.K. Oxenham.

1981 "From Greene to Gordon: The Changing Accent of Catholic Literature", by Mr Karl G. Schmude.

"Life Style and the Built Environment", by Mr Robin Gibson.


"James Quinn: Monarch of All He Surveyed", by Rev. Dr. T.P. Boland.


"Europe under the Shadow of Moscow", by Mr Arnold Lunn.


"The Poems of Aquinas", by Mr Martin Haley.

1948 "The Function of Tragedy", by Mr Donagh MacDonagh.

"The Evolution of the Evolutionary Ideas", by Dr A.E.F. Shaw.


"Higher Education in Australia", by Mr Colin Clark.


"Aquinas and the Modern Gentiles", by Mr D.G.M. Jackson.


"Aquinas and Modern Practices of Interest Taking", by Mr John P. Kelly.

The assistance of Julie McLaughlin and other library fieldwork students in making these pages possible is greatly appreciated.
Thanks to the following library fieldwork students for specific pages:- Melissa Bell for the 1982 lecture and Karen Stark for the 1994 lecture.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gordon Sloane RIP: A tribute from Donna Mulhearn

From Donna Mulhearn

Many of you would have heard in the news over the past week about the tragic death of my friend and colleague Gordon Sloane, who was part of our work in Iraq.

You might recall Gordon is well-known for his appearance on the first Australian series of Big Brother - he was hard to miss with his designer spikey hair style!

But we remember him more for his big HEART than his big hairstyle.

Gordon had a very strong sense of justice which led him to Iraq in 2003 to protest the war as part of the human shield movement. He was integral to the movements success as he was part of the team responsible for choosing the sites we woud protect, ensuring they met our criteria and preparing them for us to live at during the war.

He returned to Iraq in Novemer 2003 to be part of the "Our Home - Iraq' project to establish a shelter for street kids and orphans in Baghdad. Some of you will remember that he was the MC for the big fundraising dinner we had in Sydney before we left.

Gordon's energy, creativity and hard work played a major role in making that project a success.

He did everything from logisitcs such as finding the building, re-designing it, painting it and buying mattresses to the fun stuff such as playing with the kids, and buying them food and clothes and helping them learn to cook.

The boys loved Gordon, they loved to play sport with him, wrestle with him and generally just jump all over him.

And Gordon loved the boys.

Despite the challenges that faced us trying to run this project in a war-zone Gordon was determined to make sure those kids were safe.

He was also committed to documenting on film the situation for ordinary Iraqi's living in US occupied Baghdad and the horror of that.

Tomorrow (Thursday Sept 20) a funeral will be held in Sydney which will be celebration of Gordon's life.

It will focus on the passions of his life: music, design, humanitarian aid and justice. I will have the honour to tell the gathering about the work he did with the street kids in Iraq.

If any Sydney people would like to pay tribute to Gordon's life and work, I'd like to invite you to come along to the Sacred Heart Church,Avoca Street, Randwick at 2pm and join us in honouring Gordon's big heart

Tuesday, September 04, 2007



Tuesday September 4 2007


Catholic justice advocate, Tony Robertson has called on Church members and organizations to support the Queensland Cleaners Campaign for 7 Fair Solutions.

Mr Robertson made the appeal at the launch of the next stage of the Clean Start Fair Deal for Cleaners Campaign at the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union Building in South Brisbane this afternoon.

Mr Robertson spoke to union officials and members reminding them that the principles of Catholic Social Teachings supported their campaign for fair hours, fair workload, fair job security, fair treatment, fair leave conditions and fair rights at work.

“It is worth noting that the Bishop Kevin Saunders, Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council released a letter for the feast of St Joseph the Worker on May 1 2007 which opened with the harrowing account of the all too familiar work schedule of a cleaner.” Mr Robertson said.

Mr Robertson also pointed out that the heading of the letter published by the ACSJC, “Keeping Time Australian Families and the culture of overwork” is a reminder of the unacceptable situation in which many cleaners are exploited by unfair and unjust working conditions.

“Our faith and spirituality demand of us action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world as a constitutive dimension of our role as members of the Church in the modern world” said Mr Robertson.

Mr Robertson has called on Catholic Churches, Schools, Diocesan Centres, Hospitals, Welfare Centres and property managers to review the workload and conditions of the cleaners they employ to ensure they are faithful to the principles of Catholic Social Teachings.

Mr Robertson said “the Church must have her own house in order if she is to continue to speak with credible force on this issue”.


Tony Robertson 0417792509


Monday, July 23, 2007

Sr Joan Chittister's lecture Sydney 2007

m Thursday 19th July 2007

Ancient Answers to Current Questions

The full recording
(60 mins approx) of Sr Joan Chittister's lecture

Sr Joan's address was delivered as the keynote address of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations in Australia of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Light a Candle: Online Prayer

This site allows you to light a prayer candle for people and situations. It provides an easy set of instructions and you can choose to have your online candle burn for up to a week.

Rev Ivor Holmans RIP

Brisbane LGBT Community mourns the loss of Ivor Holmans who lived his sexuality to the full as partner, minister and friend.

Ivor and his partner , Adrian were neighbours and good friends in the locality of Annerley.

Read Ivor’s account of the History of the Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association here

Queensland Pride Obituary by Iain Clacher

You can add your message of sympathy on the Australian Obituary Web

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Reflection on ANZAC DAY 2007

What a strange day in our culture calendar. We remember young lives sacrificed on foreign fields where there was no direct threat to the peace of our land. I fact the war was not about creating peace at all. How many Catholic Churches will remember the official anti-conscription stand of that era and the legacy of Archbishop Daniel Mannix?

On this day I congratulate High school student ROBERT DOUGLAS who won the NSW's 2007 Simpson Prize for his essay on the Anzac spirit and values. In his work he reminds us:

However not all Australian "values" are admirable. Even in 1915 the famous and official war correspondent Charles Bean admitted: "I threw a cloak over the horror and beastliness, cowardice and treachery of war."

Our liturgy texts allow for special prayers and blessings on this day. However, even these texts tend to continue Bean's intent to build a machismo culture of bravery and martydom.


"As a director of music of a Catholic parish of 1600 families, I confess to you my sisters and brothers that I am not excited about abandoning the music and texts for the various parts of the Mass that we are accustomed to singing and praying. Who knows what the promised texts and the catechetical effort will look like? The past history of the United States Catholic Bishops doesn't promise much, especially when we think about the bishops' catechetical effort in response to the wars on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, which has been effectively nothing. I am certainly in favor of more liturgical catechesis, but I think we ought to spend at least as much time, effort, and money on catechesis regarding war and peace as we do on these new literal translations of the Latin Mass texts. That, of course, would require a commitment to moral orthodoxy regarding the Church's teachings on war and peace and life from the United States bishops, and pigs will fly before that happens."

In Defense of Pope Benedict
The Catholic Church is an enemy of the War Party
It is nonsense to characterize the Vatican as the enemy of Islam and the ally of Bush and the neocons in their efforts to spark a disastrous "clash of civilizations." Just as the Catholic Church was perhaps the most authoritative and powerful voice raised against the invasion of Iraq, so the Vatican clearly put the onus on the Israelis for launching an unjust war against Lebanon – and for essentially the same reasons. The Church has consistently condemned the brutalities of the Israeli occupation of the Holy Land and clearly sympathizes with the plight of the Palestinians. John Paul II characterized the Iraq war as "a defeat for humanity," and, citing the massive antiwar demonstrations that occurred all around the world on the eve of the invasion, called on Catholics to fast in protest. Benedict is not deviating from these stances, but is, instead, seeking to buttress the intellectual foundations of the doctrine – based on the interplay of faith and reason – that gives rise to the Church's antiwar, albeit not pacifistic, stance."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Ashes in Collingwood

The Easter Cross from St Joseph's Church Collingwood. Photographer Tony Robertson

This Easter Cross ia an image I took nearly 20 years ago at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Collingwood.Victoria.

On April 2 2007 this historic Church was burnt to the ground. St Joseph's has a long history of association with peace and justice ministry. It's story includes the vision and witness of great pioneers of justice:

In 1942 Father Frank Lombard was appointed priest in charge of the parish of Collingwood to test the Y.C.W. in an industrial area. He went on to become national chaplain and Collingwood continued to practice the Cardijn methodology in its pastoral outreach.

It's heroes also include the remarkable Margaret Oats, "The Angel of Colllingwood" whose support for "her girls" in the high rise units of Collingwood made hers a household name in the suburb as a witness to faith and justice.

The Vietnamese Community, many who arrived in Australia s refugees, had a shrine in the Church and one of the liturgical highlights of the year was the annual English / Vietnamese Holy Thursday Mass.

I lived and worked in this community during the early 1980s with the remarkable Michael Casey. Our household was a close knit community which for a few years included a bubbly young baby, our own John Paul.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Music to Stir Your Spirit

The life and faith journey of each of us is shot through with "sacramental" moments. If we're attentive and listening, inklings of the sacredness of life, and of the God who lives at the heart of all creation's story, can break through and nourish, delight, challenge and heal us.

In our communities we mark these moments when we gather together. This collection of songs explores such experiences, as we know them through the sacraments of our church's life, and the other various moments when we need to reach out for the sacred.

They are a celebration, a prayer and a meditation centred on this journey to the heart.
Music Publications
Over twenty eight years I have written and published music for the church and for people that they might taste and celebrate the gospel in their lives and in their worship. Here is a glimpse of that history.

Rise Up and Speak the Truth is a compilation CD with inspirational peace and anti-war music from various artists around Australia and the world.
Probably the best anti-war CD since the sixties – maybe of all time! It is the main fundraiser for the Pine Gap 4 Legal Fund – so you can support us and enjoy some great music at the same time!
Artists include: Shane Howard (ex-Goanna lead singer), Seize The Day (U.K), David Rovics (U.S), The Love Bombs (Cairns), Myrrh (Melbourne), Steve Bevis (Blue Mountains), Dave Andrews (Brisbane), Penelope Swales (Melbourne), Solidarity Choir (Sydney), Trisha Watts (Sydney), Peter Kearney (now in Ireland), Andorra (Sydney), Dana Lyons (U.S), Alec Burns (Brisbane).
Each song (16 tracks) has a strong message and as a whole the collection is a powerful call to action. The CD cover has a blurb about each song and artist as well as info on Pine Gap, the action and trial.
ONLY $15 each (plus $2 postage) if you order them from Jim (email penangke@octa4.net.au or phone 34253003) or you can buy them from Justice Products (West End), St Mary's Catholic Church South Brisbane or Rocking Horse Records ( Brisbane city) – possibly for $20

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Christian Action of non-violent civil disobedience

Along with others who have been inspired by the witness and ministry of Jesuit, John Dear I took part in the following action as a response in faith to the Gospel this Lent:

That our country is engaged in a serious war crime is without doubt. The invasion was loudly denounced by Pope John Paul 11 before it took place, and afterwards declared illegal buy then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan. More recently, a senior prosecutor at the 1945 Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, Benjamin Ferenccz, has declared George Bush should be tried the for illegal invasion of Iraq.

10th March 10, 2007

This morning about 20 folks gathered outside Brisbane ’s Enoggera Army Barracks to resist our nation’s war crimes in Iraq . We came to convey the message, “Bring the Troops Home”. Three of us would try to enter the base as to set up a peace recruitment center, as an act nonviolent resistance to the war.

Starting at the main intersection 300 meters away from the front gates and sentry box, we held a 9meter banner reading “IN THE NAME OF GOD STOP THE WARS”. After 20 minutes we processed to the gates. Every 30 metres we hammered a white cross by the roadside. Each cross carried an inscription mourning the death and destruction of war. We reflected on each inscription (such as ‘children killed’, ‘soldiers killed’, ‘prisoners tortured’) for a minute or two before moving on.

When we reached the front gates we were met by a line of police and barricades across both sides of the normally wide open entrance to the base. Capping off this “defense” of Enoggera Army Barracks was a large road sign with words formed by flashing lights to notify everyone of the situation. Our small visual impact was certainly being magnified!

While Jason talked to the police about what was going to happen, we set up our table with a “ Peace Recruitment Center ” sign on the front, and hung the large banner on the rail of the walkway opposite. Sean opened with a short talk and read from Donna Mulhearn ’s direct experiences of the suffering caused by our invasion of Iraq . He invited others to speak, and Sister Kaye reminded us of the traditional owners of the land we were on, and the suffering and death caused by another undeclared war by the European invaders. Tony spoke of how his faith had brought him to this place on this day. Anne spoke of the need to capture people’s imagination as the mass media had captured their imagination to fear “terrorists” and condone greater terrorism. She also said the terrible trauma the population was suffering meant we should ‘bring home the troops and send in the therapists’! I read some from the Nuremburg Principles and recalled that the Chief prosecutor at Nuremburg, Justice Jackson, had declared the primary War Crime was initiating a war of Aggression as we had done in Iraq .

We then planted more little crosses with names of the dead around the front of the base while the children and others wove words of peace into the fence. They also hung cardboard peace doves and streamers.

In perhaps the most moving part of the action the children took flowers up to the line of police and handed them to them. Most took them. One officer put them in his large side pocket while others placed them on the ground in front of them. At the same time we played “Flowers in the Guns” from the new “Pine Gap4” CD (a little plug there). It was a sight to melt the hardest of hearts.

Next Jason announced it was time for the action of civil disobedience when three of us would try to enter the base to ask the soldiers to refuse to cooperate with the war in Iraq .
We began a Taize chant “Veni Sancte Spiritus”. Between chanting, the three of us each spoke briefly of why we were doing this. Lisa started to cry as she spoke of how she would feel as a mother seeing her children suffer through war. I also had to stop a number of times as I tried to read a harrowing artricle by Robert Fisk describing children cut to pieces by US cluster bombs at the start of this Iraq war.

Then we lifted the peace table and proceed towards the base. On reaching the police line Jason told the officers what we intended, and one officer tried to talk us into turning around with the usual arguments. When we refused we were arrested, and charged with disturbing the peace. “Shouldn’t we be charged with ‘disturbing the war’?” Lisa asked as we were led away.

Jason and I were placed in a police wagon for half an hour to reflect on this and previous actions and plan future ones. At the end of this time the police opened the back to inform us that we would be ‘un-arrested’ and dropped some distance from the base. If we went back to the base we would be kept in the watchouse till Monday.

We were dropped a few kilometers away and our friends were waiting for us. We decided against returning. It had been quite a successful action. We would regroup in a couple of days to plan the next one. Anyone interested in waging peace with in the near can email or phone me on 34253003. I can assure you your spirits will be uplifted.

Jim Dowling

I write seeking your prayers and solidarity for Christians Against All Terrorism please.
The Roots of Christan Non-Violence an article by Thomas Merton

Saturday, January 27, 2007

In Prase of Meddlesome Priests

Henry II along with numerous Popes have been overheard by willing minions as they lamented "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest"? Even before Thomas A'Becket the Church and State have been calld to account by women and men of faith. However in the status quo of ecclesiastical hierarchy, the men have caused more angst.

This week we are again called to lament as another "voice of conscience" is taken from our midst. The passing of Abbe Pierre hardly raised a paragraph in Australian media. Fair enough as we are in the midst of a major tennis game and Nicole managed to crash a car on a film set. Only faithful viewers of SBS and subscribers to Church Resources would be aware of the significance of this event. Apart from that, I believe my old mate Bob Maguire is the first Australian commentary on this remarkable man.

I did manage to find a reference in the SMH back in 2005 when the Abbe published a book including admissions of his sexual activities. New Idea must have been so miffed at missing that scoop!! Local ACU scholar, Alan Moss writes: of the book: "Abbé Pierre’s memoir merits a mention to a wider circle of readers than those who might take up the book for themselves. His life spans almost the entire twentieth century. He has experienced the tragedy of war and occupation, has shared in efforts of church people to help the Jews, has been touched by the spiritual awakening of the church in the years leading up to the Vatican Council. Over many decades he has actively confronted the uneven distribution of the goods of the earth, and he has a voice in the context of the movement of peoples. His name will endure in the Emmaus communities."

A Vatican rep eulogized: "I believe the Abbé Pierre, his writings and speeches as well his communities’ spirit should be studied and the lessons drawn from them should spread everywhere because the Gospels and the spiritual and cultural motivations that push us to fight “the only possible war, that against hunger and destitution” are always relevant."

Other Tributes worth reading
The Independant Tribute
Le Monde (of course en Francais!)

Barney Zwartz, religious affairs writer for The Age. quotes Archbishop Mannix's observation that: politicians like to complain about meddling clerics, but they only really object when the intervention is on behalf of the other side The quote from Mannix should remind us that we also have a fine tradition of "troublesome bishops"

So, what does the passing of a French priest mean for us in the Land of Oz? A new debate about faith and politics is brewing. The publicaton of Kevin Rudd's "Faith in Politics" has stirred our most public Catholic Tony Abbott the devout former seminarian to propose that Christianity is a Liberal virtue more than a Labour vote. The full text of Mr Abbott's speech on January 27 should be online soon. This is an election year for us and the comments from Peter Grant should be posted on every Church door in the country.

Abbé Pierre spoke not as a social worker soliciting charity, but as an angry prophet challenging the French to heed their moral duty. The measure of a civilised society, he insisted, was to be found in its treatment of the outcast: "la misère juge le monde."

The life and words of the Abbe remind me of the life of James K Baxter, our own tribal prophet whose personal life was also lived with all the joys and hope, grief and anguish that are the lot of those who follow the Practice of Jesus.

May the spirit of Meddlesome Christians and Holy Irritants inform and inspire us as we go to the polls later in the year. May the Spirit who is the "enemy of apathy" teach us to sing a new song in this ancient land so that the downtroddden may be lifted up and the mighty ones put down. May our song of justice and mercy speak of the values of true religion in the "polis".

Your comments and responses are welcome using the comment tag.