Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Aussie Catholic's Guide to Social Networking

It's good to see that the Aussie Bishops have released an updated version of the Social-Networking Protocols. I must confess I wasn't aware  that we even had protocols that needed "updating". Although you can read the document as a pdf file on the official site for the Catholic Church in Australia, I suggest you log onto this document on the Media Blog site which allows for sharing and comments.

While it's a pretty cool text, it does have an odd quirk which may be part of the current trend of being faithful to the Latin. The statement insists: "Social networking, using platforms such as Facebook, MySpace or Xt3, is a phenomenon which allows groups to share information, build friendships and promote activities. Indeed, social networking has already proven to be a powerful way to engage with and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a wide variety of fora."  Now according to the authoritative  Wictionary, the English plural forums is preferred to the Latin plural fora in normal English usage. I wonder which member of the Commission for Mission and Faith Formation   edited that part of the text?

There are some good practical suggestions about personal and public issues that plague all organisations that venture into the unregulated world of  social networking. The "blurring of boundaries"  is a phrase that should be common with any professionals who engage in social networking, particularly with young people.

The statement is directed primarily at Church organisations and their personnel but it also challenges participants who engage in the world wide web using the catholic tag with little commitment to "growth in faith and in communion with others". I wonder how many of these "loose cannons" will feature this statement on their sites?

 I love the paragraph that is directed at the bishops themselves.

Some Bishops have elected to set up a public profile on Facebook, which displays them as a public figure – for example, the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn would be listed as a public figure, with a photo and information about his work and ministry. Those using these sites may wish to become a ‘fan’ of the Archbishop as a public figure. This can avoid some of the tensions which can come with accepting or denying ‘friend’ requests.

There is an obvious reason that the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn features here as he has attracted 556 fans on his public figure page. He is way ahead of Cardinal Pell who has only found 20 fans so far!! Mind you the Cardinal has  attracted 261 members to the Cardinal Pell Appreciation Society although catching up behind are the 193 members of the "Cardinal Pell and the Catholic Church are out of touch with reality"group.The most intriguing group has to be the 120 members of the Bp Chris Prowse Groupies Club.

Readers of this blog  would be surprised to see the clerics who I have as "Facebook Friends".  They represent a good cross section of theological and pastoral perspectives. I have only been "unfriended" by one cleric, a former  confrere in a religious order who now lives in another paradigm.

All people of good will should find common ground in the Bishops' naming of human dignity as the overarching principle of the communion we seek to experience in social networking. It is also challenging to read the statements' reflection on the "Digital Divide". However, I  hope a further updating will provide   more creative suggestion about bridging this gap by using Church resources in creative ways.

I would like to think that  the Holy Irritant blog was an  incentives for this quote:
 "Blogging is a conversational and reflective mode of communicating which is cost-effective and allows people to express their views in a relatively unmoderated forum. A number of priests, religious and lay people within Australia maintain excellent blogs which can be helpful for the promulgation of faith. Once again, Church workers should try to consistently represent the Church in a positive light and communicate evangelically using this medium."

I have recently announced my decision to step down from a long term gig  as web editor for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.  I can take a step back from this statement's reminder to those who work for Church organistions. But I  hope that this blog continues to provide  a perspective of  bringing about the message of Christ to the world, albeit in a slightly off beat tone!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Statement of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference on Papua: Stop Violence! Let Us Hold A Dialogue!

Violence in Papua continues to occur despite the fact that many parties have repeatedly called for resorting to peaceful means to solve Papua issues. People’s welfare can only be achieved if there is a peaceful atmosphere that allows all elements of a society work together peacefully. Violent ways are unlikely to solve so many social problems. Violence contra violence only gives birth to new violence and thus increases problems. It can be worse whenever public views and political statements expressed by the Papuans in a peaceful and transparent manner are again met with gunfire, arbitrary arrest, torture and killings. Herewith, we, the Indonesian bishops’ conference, express our deepest concerns and condemn violence acts that ostensibly do not promote human dignity and derogate the right to life, a God’s gift to every human being.

Read full text here

Stop the Gay Death Penalty

Right now, religious fanatics in Uganda are trying to push through an illegal vote that would sentence gay Ugandans to death. But two men can stop it. 

Widespread international pressure stopped this heinous bill from coming a vote in the last Parliament. Now, extremist evangelical MPs are bringing it back to the floor -- violating Parliamentary rules -- and spreading hate messages across Uganda. But 83% of Ugandans are Catholic or Protestant. If we can get the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury to appeal directly to MPs, they could stop the vote and drown out the intolerance and violence.

If we all act now -- we can save lives. Sign the urgent petition now to get the Archbishop and the Pope to speak out -- we will broadcast their messages all over the airwaves in Uganda -- then share this campaign with everyone!

To Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury :

We stand with citizens across Uganda who are calling on their government to withdraw the gay death penalty bill and protect the universal human rights embodied in the Ugandan constitution. We urge you to join us in rejecting persecution and upholding values of justice and tolerance by loudly and publicly denouncing this brutal bill.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

This week the world marks two important days to recognize support for a child's right  to freedom from sexual abuse and other violence: November 20th is World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in  honour of  the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and November 19th is World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse.

The  World Day of Prayer and Action for Children  was first celebrated in 2008. In 2009, more than 9,000 people in 29 cities in 22 countries participated in the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. In 2010, the World Day was celebrated in 47 countries through 69 events with more than 33,000 participants from around the world.
The logo for the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children features a stylized image of a child painting a rainbow in the sky. The rainbow in the design symbolizes the beautiful diversity of the human family; the many colors unite in a single rainbow to express the universal hope that all children will one day be able to grow to their full potential in a peaceful world. The child in the design is taking creative action to produce the rainbow, representing the inspired work of people of good will everywhere — especially the efforts of children and young people — to build a world fit for children. Our logo is meant to serve as a daily reminder of the spirit and vision of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.
In Brisbane I invite you to join this international campaign by coming to the shrine of St Mary MacKillop on Sunday November 20 between 11.30am and 12.00pm to light a prayer candle for the rights of children. If you are unable to be in Brisbane for this event you may like to join us in solidarity in your local community. See the facebook event to register your interest.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Occupy The Lord's House

Sign from Occupy Brisbane Site

As the Vatican attempts to pour cold water on the possibility of Pope Benedict's popemobile cruising through the wordlwide "Occupy sites" in solidarity, the Anglicans have taken out an injunction  to remove the London  protesters from the square in front of St Paul's Cathedral. 

The flurry of excitement about the Pope doing a "World Occupy Tour" (WOT2011) was generated by a statement from the office of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. The  statement came in the form of a "Nota" ("Note in Vaticanspeak)  Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.

The contents of the statement reflect many of the issues of concern being raised by those who have "occupied" cities around the world. Sentences from the statement could easily sit alongside the current agenda for example at my local Occupy Site in Brisbane.

"Recognizing the primacy of being over having and of ethics over the economy, the world’s peoples ought to adopt an ethic of solidarity to fuel their action.

Economics and finance need to be brought back within the boundaries of their real vocation and function, including their social function, in consideration of their obvious responsibilities to society – for example, that of nourishing markets and financial institutions which are really at the service of the person and are capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood. 

The time has come to conceive of institutions with universal competence, now that vital goods shared by the entire human family are at stake, goods which individual States cannot promote and protect by themselves.

The birth of a new society and the building of new institutions with a universal vocation and competence are a prerogative and a duty for everyone, without distinction. What is at stake is the common good of humanity and the future itself."

Meanwhile in London the Bishop of Buckingham,  Alan Wilson blogged his dismay at the decision of the Dean of St Pauls' Cathedral to close the sacred space  citing issues of health and safety due to the presence of the occupiers.The BBC News service  has published a great image of the relationship between the Cathedral and the London Stock Exchange which  makes it an obvious  site for an "occupy" event.

However, the announcement of a campaign by Cathedral Chapter to evict the protesters by legal action has been revealed as part of the very economic system the protesters are challenging. In a statement from Australia the British PM David Cameron said ""We need to ensure that important places like St Paul's Cathedral are open to the public, open for tourism."

Not all Cathedral staff  have been supportive of these decisions. Fraser  Dyer, a cathedral chaplain followed in the footsteps of Rev Dr Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor, and resigned from his position citing g 'disappointment " at the decison to pursue legal action against the activists.

In my fathers house there are many mansions, but no tents thank you!!! (Adaptation of John 14:2)

Christians for the Occupy Movement
Where you stand determines what you see
The Occupy Movement...Your Kingdom Come
Huffington Post reports on Occupy London

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sacrifice, Law and the Catholic Faith: is secularity really the enemy?

The premise of the Catholic Faith is that there is no real other in any meaningful religious sense, that is "another" who can be seen as so unlike us that they could not learn as we have learned, that we are victimisers and must learn not to be, and so belong to the same sign as we. There are only humans who, starting from where they are, can have desire reformed in such a way as to learn not to create identity over against anyone else at all. Whenever we come across an apparent "other" and start to get frightened and retrench into identity politics, we are not becoming more Catholic, but much less Catholic. My sorrow at Archbishop Nichols' recent sermon seeking to maintain a sacred right to discriminate against gay people was not because I am a gay man, but because I'm a Catholic. It is because I am a Catholic that I recognise that anyone playing identity politics with a victimary [sic] slant is functionally atheistic.

James Alison The Tablet Lecture 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vatican Concerns about Pope Kissing!!!

Was it a Holy Kiss or not? Definately not says the Vatican:

Statement of Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesperson, on Benetton Ad

A decisive protest must be expressed for the completely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father, manipulated and instrumentalized in the context of a publicity campaign of a commercial nature. It’s a question of a grave lack of respect for the pope, of an offense to the sentiments of the faithful, [and] of a evident demonstration of how, in the context of publicity, it’s possible to violate elementary rules of respect for persons in order to attract attention with provocations. The Secretariat of State is evaluating the steps to take with the competent authorities in order to guarantee a just protection of respect for the figure of the Holy Father.

Sorry to tell you Fr Lombardi but you did not consult me before you issued this statement. My sentiments have not been offended in any way. In fact I find the image challenging in that it has encouraged me to commit to the Benetton Unhate Campaign. I hope readers of this blog will join me and add their kiss to the Unhate Kiss wall.

If you do a search on Google Images you will find lots of images under  "Pope Kissing:  The Vatican legal team will be chasing up a lot of sites to pull done every copy of this famous image.