Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013



PRESS RELEASE from: A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc.

"Their land has been taken from them without the assertion of any other title than that of superior force...they have an incontrovertible right to their own soil, a plain and sacred right which seems not to have been understood."

This quotation is a statement issued in 1837 in the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Aborigines (British Settlements).

This committee was chaired by one of the most noted Christian parliamentarians of the time, Thomas Buxton.

In Australia we have an honoured custom of observing a minute's silence in response to a whole range of fatal events. Crowds at sporting events observe a minute's silence to mark the death of a noted Australian sportsperson. 

And the remembrance of conflicts involving Australians also includes such an observance. As well, there are thousands of monuments throughout Australia that tell us that Australians lost their lives fighting "for God and Empire". 

The parliamentary report of 1837 states clearly that it was force that caused the taking of land from the indigenous inhabitants of this land. Indeed, a legal and historical fiction was even set in place to say that this land was uninhabited before white people came. That fiction was enshrined in the misleading phrase "terra nullius".

Whether it is remembrance of the Myall Creek massacre of 1838, or the Coniston massacre of 1928, there is a need for Australians to give time to remember those who were killed, orphaned or maimed in the forcible taking of this land.

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) [APCV] calls on our fellow Australians to pause for a minute's silence on Australia Day to recall the wider consequences for the ancient peoples of this land of the arrival of the first fleet at Port Jackson on 26 January, 1788.

There is a need for three R's – Reflection, Remembrance and Resolution.
A minute is but a fleeting moment of time. But can it not be spared on the 26th January to reflect upon the consequences of that first fleet's coming to these shores? It was a fleet that claimed the land as part of the forceful expansion of the Britisn Empire.

And Remembrance. Some may call this the "black armband" view of our history. But the readiness of present-day Australians to face not only the positive side of history but also its dark underbelly is, surely, a sign of maturity. Not to do so is to opt for the white-washing and falsifying of our history.

Remembrance and Reflection. But let us include a third R - Resolution. Let us, as an Australian people, resolve that the story of both indigenous and European occupation of this land be faced squarely. At 10:00am on the 26 January, 2013, for a minute at least, let the story of the experience of Australia's indigenous people be remembered. Is that too much to ask?

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) Inc

Contact:. Rev'd Dr Ray Barraclough
Tel: 07 5494 2349 Mob: 0451 049 516


COSSAG is one of my favourite religious acronyms providing a two syllable sound for the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group. This extraordinary group have quietly been  building a professional reputation in Brisbane  as curators and exhibitors for  local and International artisans. 

As well as the exhibitions and public talks, the group have a strong commitment to Fair Trade ethics which gives a cutting edge to their work.

For the first event in 2012 the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group (COSSAG) invites professional and amateur artists to exhibit and sell in the annual Cycle of Life Lenten Art Exhibition, 2013 from 9am to 5pm, Saturday 16th March until Monday 18th March. Two prizes each for $1000 will be offered for the art work that is judged as being of the highest quality relating to the theme,


This theme is inspired by the YEAR OF GRACE being marked by Australian Catholics from Pentecost 2012 to Pentecost 2013.

One $1000 prize will be offered for work that uses recycled materials with originality and skill.

The second $1000 prize will be on the same theme for work to be hung. The works may reflect a positive appreciation of earth gifts and an awareness of our responsibilities as we recycle, restore, heal and renew. It is not necessary to use a religious theme. COSSAG looks forward to exhibiting work that is thought provoking for our buyers and audience. Works are limited to 1 metre in size in all directions. 

For more information and conditions please email Beth Belton at

Other Diary Dates for 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tissa Balasuriya O.M.I. RIP

On the morning of Thursday January 17, 2013  renowned theologian and saintly prophet of justice Fr Tissa Balasuriya passed away in Sri Lanka.

Tissa's writings are available online and remain part of my lexicon of essential theology. Readers can also access an article published by the Australian Online Catholics in 2005: What Asian Catholics Know

I still cherish the experience of meeting this extraordinary man in the 1980s when he came to Australia as the guest of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. After a lifetime of formation in the European Theological tradition it was liberating to be exposed to an Asian perspective.  Tissa's insights and commitment to inter-religious relationships challenge us to move beyond mere dialogue and cups of tea.

His witness to a new language for theological conversation brought into into conflict with the Roman Curia in 1997. A well documented  summary of the process of excommunication  and its lifting has been published here.

As well as his writings, Tissa's legacy includes the Centre for Society and Religion and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians. For many in the Northern hemisphere this week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. How ironic is  it that one of the great Catholic promoters of Christian Unity will be mourned as indicators point to a diminishing commitment to ecumenism by the current Papacy.

As we grieve the loss of this prophetic witness to faith and political activism may we continue to honour his legacy by our works of justice and our commitment to cross cultural relationships.

2010 Inter Faith tributes to Tissa Balasuriya
Fr Tissa Balasuriya response to Dominus Iesus

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BISMILLAH Launch Brisbane

It’s time to rebuild the bridges that have been blown up. It’s time to reconnect the lines of communication between our g. It’s time to practice the compassion that both our sides say we believe in. It’s time for Christians and Muslims to embrace the BISMILLAH.

AMARAH invites you to the launch of Dave Andrews’ beautiful reflections on the BISMILLAH 7.30pm Thursday, February 28 at BCC Library, Garden City Shopping Centre, Upper Mt. Gravatt.

‘Dave’s reflections (in) Ramadan demonstrate Muslims and Christ-ians have much to teach to and learn from each other in respect to navigating a path towards God and living according to God’s will.’ Halim Rane, Deputy Director, Griffith Islamic Research Unit.

‘This unique work contains all Dave’s Ramadan reflections, his profound thoughts on what it means to be a true witness to God’s love, mercy and compassion for all His creation’. Nora Amath, AMARAH, Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity.

The launch, halal snacks and soft drinks are free, but an RSVP is essential. Please email your RSVP to If you have inquiries call Dave @ 0401669245.
Dave Andrews.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Twelfth Day of Christmas: Epiphany

It's an amzing world isn't it? In the Northern winter today's  religious celebrations include a bracing swim to recover a cross thrown into the waters. There is also a ritual blessing of the waters and the craft who sail in them.

Here in the Land Downunder we are soaking up the sun and diving for pleasure.It's Sunday and some may use wikianswers as a guide to taking down their decorations on this day. However, the best local content for today's celebration come from  blogging mate Michael Carden:

Today is Epiphany Day. Originally January 6 was the date of Christmas in the Eastern Churches. The Emperor Constantine adopted December 25 in line with Western Church practice and gradually through the 4th century, it became the standard date for Christmas. The only exception was the Armenian Church. Armenia was an independent kingdom and had adopted Christianity a few years before Constantine made Christianity a licit religion in the Roman Empire. The Armenians kept to the older date and thus observe Christmas today.