Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Message from L'Arche Palestine

A message from #larche in #Palestine
A community with whom I live in solidarity
July 29 2014

This is a time of intense sadness in Palestine. The almost continuous bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli military has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and wounded over 6,000. The members of L’Arche in Palestine, as most of the inhabitants of Bethlehem and Bethany and other areas in the West Bank, are doing okay, though the tension and unpredictability in our daily lives – as well as the feeling of powerlessness in front of the atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters in Gaza – are really taking a toll on us.

For people on the West Bank, life during the day is more or less normal. At night, though, there are demonstrations to protest against the situation in Gaza, and the Israeli army uses force to quell the demonstrations. These clashes can last for hours. It’s a situation that has all but emptied us of any hope for peace.

It is the end of the month of Ramadan, and, as one of our important traditions, a number of people from L’Arche in Bethlehem will go to prepare and share the Iftar evening meal with our friends at the malja (institution) in Bethany. What gives us hope is our ability to create something beautiful together even in the midst of an ugly situation. It’s a sign, a very small sign, that faithful relationships can be a source of hope.

We’re very grateful for the messages of prayer and concern sent to us by so many individuals and communities around the Federation. Let’s together pray that the hearts of all people will be touched with a genuine desire for and commitment to peace and justice

John Vanier Letter from Bethlehem April 2012
Remembering Jamil Alqam of Palestine

Songs of Faith Events n Brisbane

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Images That Open Your Eyes: July 2014

My parents were never front pew Catholics. They usually sat in the middle except of course for the big family gigs such as weddings and funerals. This image probably best expresses my current relationship with the Church: the last pew, just inside.

The funny thing is that in many communities this is the power pew, occupied by the "keepers" who guide late comers, have custody of the collection plate and are ready for any untoward activity that cannot be contained by the clergy up the front.

Back pews are also the refuge of the aged and those with mobility issues who find the long distance events in Churches such as this a bit overwhelming. They can also provide quick and easy exits for those who need to leave before the second collection, a great Catholic custom.

This is the first time I have seen myself in the back pew. In good old Churches like St Brigid's Red Hill  it also means you are almost under the organ and choir so you get a bit more bass down your spine.

This is also my first "selfie" from behind, a view I rarely get to see. Captions for then image welcome

Friday, July 25, 2014

Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce Rejected by Government.
Protecting the Lonely Children: Recommendations to the Australian Government and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child with respect to unaccompanied children who seek asylum and refuge in Australia.
The report  “paints a harrowing picture of neglect and abuse, one that we could not imagine allowing our own children to be placed in” and notes “that children who come to us seeking asylum are to be regarded as a significant threat requiring detention and deportation represents the utter moral failure of leadership in our country.”
Building on our earlier report All the Lonely Children which posed 15 questions for the incoming government, this further edition analyses the response from both the Government and Opposition and makes a series of practical recommendations for a more compassionate approach towards children seeking our protection.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the allegations from the taskforce, which includes members from Anglican, Catholic, Salvation Army, Uniting Church, and other denominations, were 'shocking and offensive.'
'And the Minister rejects these categorically,' she said in a statement.
'The government takes the protection of children very seriously and is committed to ensuring they are protected from exploitation and abuse.'
A spokeswoman for Mr Morrison said abuse allegations were an insult not just to the government but to all in the system who cared for asylum-seeker children.
An overwhelming majority of unaccompanied minors live in the community and receive adequate care and access to education. The minister took his guardianship responsibilities seriously. “Claims of state-sanctioned child abuse are shocking and offensive, and the minister rejects these categorically,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
“The number of children in held detention has declined by over 35 per cent under this government, from more than 1300 at the time of the election down to 849.”
Mr Morrison’s spokeswoman criticised the lack of consultation on the report, saying it was unfair the minister had not been given an opportunity to view it ahead of its release.
However, it’s understood it was presented to the immigration department on July 10 with the full set of recommendations.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Catholic Facebook group Promotes Islamphobia

It was so amazing to be at the rally for Palestine today. The reality of misinformation and Islamphobia in the Catholic Church has been highlighted by this item on the facebook page of Nationalrosaryforaustralia It would be too easy to unfriend people like this. I prefer to engage them with facts and denounce the values they represent in their litany of hate.

I hope those clergy and other Catholics who are mutual friends will also add their voice of protest to the sentiments of this group. It's time to challenge Islamphobia in my Church

The follwoing text is taken from the Nationalrosaryforaustralia Facebook page today:

Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia 10 hrs · Many jewish people have started returning to israel in thew last year or two due to rise of anti semitism in european countries LikeLike · · Share
Tony Robertson Many Palestinians would love to return to their homes but Israel has built a wall around their suburbs and now bombs their homes 5 hrs · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth 4 mins · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth 4 mins · Like
Nationalrosaryforaustralia Nationalrosaryforaustrlia i would too if i weere surrounbded by arab nations who thjreatened wipe me off the face of the earth

Why Catholics must speak out against Islamophobia

Friday, July 11, 2014


Students campaign for compassion in asylum seeker debate

Posted Fri 11 Jul 2014, 8:51pm AEST
Students from Rostrevor college have launched a social media campaign, saying they're in search of a compassionate Australian policy towards asylum seekers.


Msgr. Melchor Sanchez, undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Culture, holds a sign with the hashtag in front of the Vatican. Credit: Pontifical Council for Culture.
The Pontifical Council for Culture launched an effort designed to unite the world in asking for peace in warring countries by observing a moment of silence during the final game of the World Cup. 

“Sports were born around religious festivities. Sporting events were moments of peace when wars ceased, as for the Olympic truce,” Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda said July 10 for the launch of the campaign.

 “Why not for the World Cup? Why not a pause, a moment of silence, a truce for peace?”

The President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi took to social media to promote the initiative heading into the weekend. @cardinalravasi tweeted, “A still, small voice of silence” (1 Kings 19,12) #PAUSEforPeace #WorldCup2014

Read more at:

Now anyone with a name like  Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda  has to be worth a google search.It turns out that "Mellie" is quite a sporty pinup boy around the Vatican. He even donned some gear for the launch of the first Vatican Cricket team last year.

The Australian presence at the Vatican is bigger than George Pell in a Cappa Magna. St Peter's Cricket team is the dream child of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to the Vatican. According to the media release

.......... the St. Peter’s Cricket Club will field a team to play the Church of England at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London sometime next fall.
The aim is to boost interfaith dialogue, given cricket’s immense popularity in largely non-Roman Catholic India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It would be a “very special occasion” if seminarians from Rome’s pontifical universities might one day play students at Muslim or Hindu religious schools on the subcontinent, he said.
The initiative also is aimed at educating Italy, the Vatican and even Pope Francis “there is some sport other than football,” Mr. McCarthy said before passing around a tray of cucumber tea sandwiches, a mainstay of cricket events.
The club is expected to draw on 250-300 students and priests at the Vatican and pontifical universities around Rome where cricket is already being played informally; from these individual teams a Vatican one would be selected and fielded as early as the spring.

I wonder if the Vatican Cricket Team will get to bowl a maiden over?

Sport religion and politics are usually off limits at your friendly knitting club, however this is the year that the goalposts have shifted and everyone is in on the conversation.

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council is publishing its 2014 statement in September titled: 2014-2015: A Crown for Australia 

2014-15-SJS-tempStriving for the best in our sporting nation

In a covering letter from Archbishop Densi Hart, the Australian Bishops acknowledge both the blessings and what they describe as the "darker side of sport: "violence on and off the field, abuse of drugs and alcohol,racism, sexism and commercial exploitation." It's a pretty good list although I wonder why they couldn't include homophobia as well?

So come September and we head off to the Grand Final with Geelong taking on whoever gets to meet us (LOL) we might include this statement in our ipad list of good reading.

I haven't watched the World Cup much but the invitation to pause for peace during the game is a good initiative which I hope gets plenty of support and commitment.