Saturday, June 01, 2013

Footballers and Bishops Against Racism
Adam Goodes has become a household name in Australia and Racism has been exposed yet again  in the sacred halls of the AFL

Joel Hodge reflecting on the role of sport in society writes: " The challenge for us, as individuals and as a society, is how to play, watch and prioritise sport “for the fun” so that it does not become obsessive and destructive; and so, that it does not take over our country and its identity."

Racism  is one of the  destructive patterns in sport and two anniversaries this year should challenge our attitudes and strengthen our resolve to address this issue.

In 1993 Ricky Winmar lifted his jumper, pointed to his skin and responded to racist taunts with "I'm black and I'm proud to be black". Black and Proud A stand against racism is an exhibition mounted to mark this event  at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne. The exhibition should be a place of pilgrimage and conversion and I will be including it in significant events to mark the celebration of my 60th Birthday this year.

Ten years ago in 2003 the Australian Catholic Bishops released a landmark statement: A Generous Heart in the Love of Christ Challenging Racism in Australia Today. 

In the introduction to the statement Bishop Chris Saunders notes

"We live in a time of national and international divisiveness and bitterness, often based on racial and religious differences. The Statement traces Australia’s own story of welcome and exclusion, from the impact of the early white settlers on our first inhabitants to the development of a multicultural nation, but notes the recurrence today of widespread racial hostility and rejection, expressed most clearly in our attitude to prospective refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East."

Perhaps it is time to re-visit this statement.Imagine the impact if the link to this statement was included in the various Diocesan and and parish websites that provide useful and even "essential" links.I would like to see quotes from the statement in our famous "sporting" schools included as part of the coaching program. Will you ask your Diocese, parish,school community and friends to take Racism seriously and read this statement?

Racism isn't far from the sacred halls of the Church as evident in this quote from an article by  Nick Agocs a recipient of the Multicultural Community Service award in WA,

Yes, there are racists in Australia! A close examination of our conscience and attitudes we will find that we all have "racist" views to some extent. But it is very disturbing for a cleric to claim that Australian parishes are racist while at the same time refusing to recognise the "institutionaled racism"that  exists within the structure of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Nick Agocs  was replying to a featured blogpost in CathNews in which Fr Maurizio Pettena CS stated:
The harm we do in showing frankly racist attitudes toward those who have come here in generosity is extremely upsetting. We can take a more positive role in helping these migrant priests to get used to Australian culture, but instead, we simply criticise them for being “ignorant, tribal or patriarchal.”
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