Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Brisbane LGBTI Meditation Group Supporting Healthy Communities


A new LGBT meditation group has formed in Brisbane. The group's purpose is to create a safe space for the LGBTI (etc) community who enjoy meditation and spirituality to connect in Brisbane. Individuals are free to partake in an accepting, safe, welcoming space - providing inner reflection and also spreading love throughout the Universe (of course!).

The LGBT Meditation Group will be held at Azaya Natural Health Clinic 3/75 Hardgrave Rd, West End on two Thursdays a month (the first was held 4 July). Please arrive by 6:15pm for a 6:30 start.

The cost is a donation (whatever you can afford). The LGBT Meditation Group is fundraising for Healthy Communities with half the profits going towards sustaining our LGBT health and wellbeing work and the other half going to another worthy cause, Partners for Pets.

Connecting the LGBTIQ (etc) community in a safe, spiritually minded environment through guided meditation.

For more information email ozc820@gmail.com or search for the Facebook group 'Brisbane LGBT Meditation
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Refugees in Papua New Guinea Could Face Religious Persecution



Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd has sailed into murky waters with a leaky policy agreement with the Government of Papua New  Guinea The decision to force settlement in Papua New Guinea for  Asylum Seekers and Refugees who attempt to arrive on our shores by boats from Indonesia is cause for concern in this election year.

What most media and observers have failed to see in the  concerns about this proposal is the very real threat Refugees from non-Christian religions may find in PNG.

The PNG Post-Courier published a story on July 15 in which it reported that the Parliament of Papua New Guinea has passed a motion to carry out a nationwide consultation on the question of religious freedom and whether to ban faiths that are not Christian.

This is an alarming and disturbing prospect in a country preparing to accept Refugees from divers religious backgrounds as permanent residents.

To their credit the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea have released a statement calling the proposed ban"absurd". The Bishops go on to say:

The simple discussion of banning other faiths from any town in the twenty-first century contradicts decades a human rights progress and civil liberties. It infringes in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. Moreover it discriminates among citizens on a ground that should never be reason for discrimination: personal faith.

If you share my concerns about this latest "solution" to our failure to address the issue of refugees in our region you can send an email to your Federal MP using the GetUp Campaign.

Church groups respond:

Some background reading I suggest you share:

Julian Burnside remains one of the few consistent and informed commentators on this complex and challenging issue. His observation about the general public "being mislead about boat people" is both accurate and factual.

Frank Brennan has provided a great analysis of this decision by Kevin Rudd.

Lenore Taylor The Guardian (UK)

Mark Bahnisch Lavartus Prodeo

Kevin Rudd published  "Faith in Politics"  in 2006. I wonder if he remembers saying :

Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific Solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches. We should never forget that the reason we have a UN convention on the protection of refugees is in large part because of the horror of the Holocaust, when the West (including Australia) turned its back on the Jewish people of Germany and the other occupied countries of Europe who sought asylum during the '30s.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NAIDOC Mass Brisbane 2013

Marshall Bell
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St Stephen, Elizabeth Street Brisbane on Sunday July 14 at 12,00 noon.

The Mass which is part of the usual Cathedral schedule will feature texts and elements of Indigenous Culture. Elders and guests from local communities will join regular worshipers for this special celebration.

It is regrettable that this particular event does not get a mention in the official Archdiocesan calendar. It was only featured among the usual notices in the Cathedral bulletin the week of July 7. There was more prominence given to a Bach Concert. This indicates to me that we have much work to do if in the words of Pope John Paul to Aboriginal People in Alice Springs in 1986: " the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.”

July 14 also marks the end of NAIDOC Week 2013.

This year's letter from the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders should be essential reading  by every Catholic and person of goodwill  

The Bishops set the context for our relations with the First  People of Australia in  the choice that makes an option for the poor as demonstrated by the words of deeds of Pope Francis. The two quotes which are highlighted in the letter should be printed out and posted on every  Church notice bulletin:

Indigenous youth self-harm and suicide rates continue to cast a pall over people’s lives. The tragedy of suicide leaves a host of unanswerable questions in the minds of grieving families and sorrowing friends.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples not only have a rightful place in Australian society but they have a uniquely important contribution to make that will enrich our lives, our nation and our Church.


The Bishops acknowledge the history of relations between Christianity and Aboriginal people has "not always been good news".  A recent article in Eureka Street by Mike Bowden is headlined: Catholic Church's Toll on Aboriginal Australia. The comments on this story point to untold joys and hope, grief and anguish of this history.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Jean Vanier Receives Pacem In Terris Peace and Freedom Award

On Sunday July 7 the village of Trosly-Breuil hosted an International event that saw its famed son, Jean Vanier receive the 2013 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. 

Jean Vanier, founded the  L'Arche Federation in the village in 1964, the same year the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award was created. . L'Arche is  an international community of people with and without disability sharing life across cultural religious and human diversity.

The award was presented to Vanier by Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport. This is the first time since its foundation  in 1964 that the award has been presented outside the United States. 

The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award was created  by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council.  An Award is presented by the Diocese in collaboration with other organization to honor a person for their achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world.

The web site of the Diocese of Davenport includes a page dedicated to the award. It lists previous recipients including names that have instant recognition such as John F. Kennedy 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. 1965, Dorothy Day 1972,Archbishop Desmond Tutu 1987 and Sister Helen Prejeans 1998.

http://www.davenportdiocese.org/socialaction/sapitrecipients.htm
But other award  recipients,  may be names that readers are discovering for the first time. These could include: Cristal Lee Sutton 1980, Maria Julia Hernandez1991, Arthur Simon 2004 and the 2012 recipient Kim Bobo.

The International media coverage of the award to Vanier includes inspiring stories of those who have been challenged by their experience of living in L'Arche:
The Catholic Herald  (UK)
St Louis Review (USA)
The Catholic Messenger (USA)
The Quad City Times (USA)

The Australian connection with Jean Vanier goes back to a few years after the foundation of L'Arche. His visit in 1984 has been  documented online by Sr Mary Noonan, In 2004 Kate Mannix wrote of Vanier's  final visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation of L'Arche in Australia. In 2010 Jean Vanier recorded a telephone interview for ABC Encounter.

A 1984 photo with from left:  Fr Terry Yard, Phil Vincent, Lilian Sutton (whose photo this is), Jean Vanier in the centre, Robin Wilkinson, Eileen Glass, a National co-ordinator, and Ken Lowrie.  This group, here with Jean Vanier, formed the original L’Arche Team in Hobart

Jean Vanier is also a nominee for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012 he co-authored Living Gently in a Violent World with Stanley Hauerwas, a book I carry around as essential reading.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday A Forgotten Feast in the Australian Church

The web site for my home Archdiocese of Brisbane provides a calendar of upcoming events. In April there is a listing for an ANZAC Day Mass. However in July when the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference invite Catholic to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday there is not a mention of this event.

This week's Cathedral bulletin did  note a NAIDOC Mass next Sunday, July 14 at 12.00pm but don't hold your breath  for them updating their online version.  Elizabeth Harrington, Liturgy Brisbane's education officer has published a set of guidelines for this celebration in her 2004 and 2007 columns for the Catholic Leader.

A google search for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2013 indicated that this significant day in the life of the Church has not been mentioned on  Diocesan web sites and is of little or no interest to the Catholic Blogsphere or even in discussion forums.

This year's letter from the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders should be essential reading  by every Catholic and person of goodwill as we launch NAIDOC Week 2013.

The Bishops set the context for our relations with the First  People of Australia in  the choice that makes an option for the poor as demonstrated by the words of deeds of Pope Francis. The two quotes which are highlighted in the letter should be printed out and posted on every  Church notice bulletin:

Indigenous youth self-harm and suicide rates continue to cast a pall over people’s lives. The tragedy of suicide leaves a host of unanswerable questions in the minds of grieving families and sorrowing friends.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples not only have a rightful place in Australian society but they have a uniquely important contribution to make that will enrich our lives, our nation and our Church.


The Bishops acknowledge the history of relations between Christianity and Aboriginal people has "not always been good news".  A recent article in Eureka Street by Mike Bowden is headlined: Catholic Church's Toll on Aboriginal Australia. The comments on this story point to untold joys and hope, grief and anguish of this history.

The Bishops remind  us of the words of Pope John Paul to Aboriginal Peoples at Alice Springs: which must continue to haunt our parishes, schools and Church structures: “... the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.”

NAIDOC Mass Brisbane 2011