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.