Sunday, August 31, 2014

Daniel Mannix: His Legacy

Even as a young boy growing up in Geelong  I was aware of the towering figure of Archbishop Mannix. In 1963 he died along with two other great Catholic public figures, John F Kennedy and Pope John XXIII. I can still see the evening Herald banner announcing their deaths.

These men were part of the great story I inherited from my family about politics religion and culture. Mannix was a complex part of the story. I knew his opposition to conscription in the First World War. I was aware of his influence in the Catholic Social Movement which my father supported. My introduction to public politics was watching B A Santamaria every Sunday after mass.

I welcome this new work from the Melbourne Historical Diocesan Commission. Val Noone and Rachel Naughton have provided us with a collection of essays that should appeal to both the general reader and serious scholar.

This valuable work gathers the papers presented at a Conference of the same name held in the State Library of Victoria on 16 March 2013. Edmund Campion's contribution is available online.

Contributors to this work are almost as colourful as the main subject.  Brian Costar, Patrick Morgan, Michael McKernan, Brenda Niall, Elizabeth Malcolm, David Schutz, Dermot Keogh, Gabrielle McMullen, Archbishop Denis Hart, Edmund Campion The most elusive of the contributors is another Mannix.Patrick Mannix appears in Google however the first few entries are far more "left of centre" than one would expect of an author on Daniel Mannix. I guess I will have to wait to see the book and hope it has some bio notes on Pat!!

Download an order form as I did and order your copy: DM book order form

Lens on a Holy Irritant

Life lived through a lens. These two images have been taken 37 years apart. Joseph Oudeman and I were in the same community of Capuchin Friars, Australia in 1977 when the first pic was taken. Now 37 years later we are photographed for the first time since those days. Joseph and I both wear hats but he had put his away in the cupboard for this pic.(Pity the poor quality of the second image. This is what happens when you ask a stranger to take a pic. Beware Stranger Danger!!!)
 — with Wendy Flannery and FrJulian Messina.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pray for Iraq

Tomorrow will be Sunday in Queensland Cultural Diversity Week. I will join my sisters and brothers of the east particularly the small community of Catholics from Iraq as we pray together at St Clement - Melkite Catholic Church 

I invite you to take some time over this weekend to read this heart breaking report from Iraq: 

Dear all,
We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark 10: 46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!
We entered the third week of displacement. Things are moving very slowly in terms of providing shelter, food, and necessities for the people. There are still people living in the streets. There are still no organized camps outside of schools that are used as refugee centres. An unfinished, three story building has also been used as a refugee centre. For privacy reasons, families have made rooms using UNHCR plastic sheets in these unfinished buildings. These places look like stables. We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people. However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about two minorities (Christian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted because of their religion.
Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the political leaders has diminished, if it exists, at all. People cannot tolerate it anymore. It is too heavy of a burden. Yesterday, a young man expressed that he would rather die than live, without dignity. People feel that their dignity has been stripped from them. We are being persecuted because of our religion. None of us ever thought we would live in refugee camps because of that.
It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of dividing the Middle East, that happened in 1916, being repeated now? At that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It is apparent that there are sinfully, cunning people dividing Iraq, now. In 1916, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or is it deliberate?
However, the struggle is not only in the camps, with the displaced people. What has happened in our Christian towns that have been evacuated is even worse. The IS forced out of their homes those who did not leave their towns up to the night of August 6th. Yesterday, seventy-two people were driven out of Karakosh. However, not all of them arrived; those who arrived last night were in miserable condition. They had to cross Al-Khazi river (a tributary to the Great Zab) on foot because the bridge had been destroyed. There are still quite few on the side of the riverbank. We do not know when they will make it to Erbil. It depends on the situation and negotiations between the Peshmerga and the IS. There are some people who went to fetch the elderly and the unable to walk. One of our sisters went to bring her parents, and told her story. Another woman, said that she was separated from her husband and children, and she knows nothing about them; they are probably among the others who are on the other bank, or they might be among the hostages taken by the IS. Also, a tree-year old daughter was taken from her mother’s lap, and she also knows nothing about her. We do not know why the IS are sending people out of Karakosh, but we have been hearing from those who just arrived, that IS are bringing barrels into Karakosh and the contents are unknown.
In addition, we know of four Christian families who are stuck in Sinjar for over three weeks; they are probably running out of food and water. If they do not get help, they will die there. At the present, there is no contact with them, and there is no way to negotiate with the IS.
As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all the holy pictures, icons, and statutes are being destroyed. Crosses have been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the IS flags. That is not only in Karakosh and Tel Kaif. In Baqofa, one of our sisters heard the situation was calm, so she went back with few people, to get her medicine. She found the convent had been searched; everything was open and strewn across the rooms. The minute they entered the convent, three bombs hit the town. They left immediately.
Apart from what is happening to the Christians, yesterday, Friday the 22nd, a Shiite suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Sunni mosque of Abou Mussab in village under Iraqi government control in Diyala province leaving 68 dead. It is heartbreaking to hear about people get killed while praying. In terms of Media and news release, this massacre overshadowed what is happening to the Christians in Nineveh Plain. We are afraid that our struggle will become only our own affairs, and it will not have impact on the world anymore.
At last, we have to say that people are losing their patience. They miss everything in their hometowns: churches, church bells, streets, and neighborhood. It is heartbreaking for them to hear that their homes have been robbed. Although they love their towns, most people are now thinking of leaving the country so they can live in dignity and have future for their children. It is heard to have hope in Iraq, or to trust the leadership of the country.
Please, keep us in your prayers.
Sister Maria Hanna OP
Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena-Iraq
P.S. Please share the letter with other people. Let the world hear the cry of the poor and the innocent.

(24 August 2014)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interfaith Summit on Climate Change,

As part of a global effort to mobilize action and ambition on climate change, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is organizing a Climate Summit on 23 September 2014 in New York. In order to highlight the specific contributions that faith traditions bring to the international climate debate, the World Council of Churches and Religions for Peace will organize an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, to be held in New York 21-22 September 2014.
One of the objectives of this Interfaith Summit will be to convey the faith communities’ concerns and proposals to the Secretary General’s Climate Summit as part of long term efforts to influence the climate negotiations and the contributions countries bring to the table.
Thirty religious leaders will gather in New York for the Interfaith Summit. The group will reflect a balance of gender, religions, geography, strong moral leadership and knowledge, as well as engagement on issues related to climate change. The inclusion of indigenous people and youth will be key. All the participants will be asked to commit to being advocates for climate justice and the protection of the earth both at the global and the national level.

David Marr on George Pell

The presbytery of St Alipius is a redbrick gothic bungalow built when gold money was still washing through Ballarat. It sits in a Catholic compound of brick and granite schools and convents where the road from Melbourne reaches town. White crosses stand on the gables of the house as if to ward off evil from all points of the compass. The plan, if that was indeed the plan, failed spectacularly. When young Father George Pell moved  his things into the presbytery in 1973, that corner of Ballarat was one of the most dangerous places in Australia for children. Already living in the presbytery was Father Gerald Ridsdale, chaplain at the little primary school standing on the other side of the church. He was raping the children. All four members of the staff, all Christian Brothers, were abusing the children in the school. They would not be exposed for twenty years. George Pell, back from his studies in Rome and Oxford, noticed nothing. Full text

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Extraordinary People of Faiith

Trespassing charges against nine religious leaders who protested in the Adelaide Hills electorate office of federal MP Jamie Briggs in June have been dismissed by the Adelaide Magistrates Court. (Full report from ABC)

#LoveMakesAWay is a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action.


To asylum seekers the Australian Government says "NO WAY!" But we are a growing movement of Christians that says #LoveMakesAWay.

Love Makes A Way organises events and actions, including civil disobedience actions, to publicly witness to the injustice of Australia's asylum seeker policies, and to a better way.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

As of April 2014 there are 1138 children in detention in Australia's detention centres. This is in addition to the thousands of adults, desperate people fleeing terrible situations. Professor Pat McGorry, previous Australian of the Year, has said that our detention centres are “factories for producing mental illness.” An Australian and New Zealand study of children who had been detained for more than one year revealed that 100% suffered from some form of mental illness attributable to their detention.

We believe, as followers of the refugee Jesus, that this situation is unacceptable, and that the time has come for us to boldly speak and act.

But to end Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policies we cannot rely on anger, hate or propaganda. Instead we must seek to speak the truth in a spirit of nonviolent love, as Christ taught us. It is only by doing so, and inviting others to join us, that we will see the transformation of people. Such transformation is the only way to build a better society because true justice requires transformed people who can be just.

In all our actions we seek not to demonise the perpetrators of these policies, but rather to invite them to a better way, and to promise to support them in this. We also seek to change public attitudes, particularly within the Church, and wish to encourage and empower people to love both asylum seekers and those who have acted unjustly. We also hope to inspire people to take bold actions that witness to God's love for all people, even civil disobedience actions where necessary.

We know ours is not the only response to Australia’s current asylum seeker policies, and we are thankful for the range of responses people have been making to speak and act for justice. But we also believe that ours is one of many necessary responses in light of the seriousness of our current policies.

In regards to civil disobedience as a method, we are influenced by the actions and teaching of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and most importantly Jesus Christ. We believe King's words summarise well our approach to civil disobedience:

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored … Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured

Monday, August 11, 2014

St Mary's South Brisbane Prays for Peace

Pope Francis generally posts on Twitter every few days.

Over this past weekend he posted 9 times, each time calling for peace in Iraq, urging us to pray, and for the international community to protect those suffering.

For the next few weeks we will be gathering at our weekly Holy Hour to answer the Pope's call to 'pray for peace'.

WHERE: St Mary's Catholic Church, 20 Merivale St, South Brisbane
WHEN: Wednesdays, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Brisbane Launch of Protecting the Lonely Children Report

On behalf of the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, we would like to invite you to the Brisbane launch of the Protecting the Lonely Children report and the opening of the accompanying ‪#‎EndChildDetention‬ installation at St John’s Cathedral.
Venue: St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Ann St Brisbane
Time: 9 to 10am
Date: Monday 18th August, 2014

Murray Watt, Senior Associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Sonia Caton, Chair of the Refugee Council of Australia
The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
This report offers recommendations to protect and better provide for unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum and refuge in Australia. It follows the release of the draft report in October 2013 which articulated 15 areas of concern. The Taskforce subsequently received formal responses from both the Commonwealth Government and Opposition, and additional information from senior legal advisors, academic, and service providers from across Australia.
It was through the process of compiling this report that the Taskforce became compelled to call the detention and treatment of unaccompanied children “state sanctioned child abuse.”
The report has previously been launched in Melbourne, and we will now be hosting a launch of the report and a discussion on the issues, here in Brisbane.
All are welcome to attend.

The Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival

The Fieri Consort
The Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival is an annual showcase of contemporary church music that gives audiences an exciting opportunity to hear fine performances within the acoustic of St John’s Anglican Cathedral.

In 2014, the Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival takes place over two jam-packed Sundays in August.

But what does ‘contemporary church music’ mean?  The phrase can be confusing.

Is it so-called “popular” music?  No.  Are there drum-kits and guitars?  No.

Does it involve the sort of music many churches sing on a Sunday morning?  Unlikely.

The Festival aims to present recent sacred music that remains largely hidden to modern audiences – because of the high standard of performance it requires – and give listeners a way to experience faith and spirituality, set in language appropriate to the age in which we live.

In 2014, the Festival is delighted to welcome the Fieri Consort as special guests.

You can find full details of the 2014 Festival here, as well as Past Programmes and information about the stunning Venue.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Jesus Joins Homeless Persons Week

Homeless Jesus

Today is the last day of Homeless Persons Week 2014

People will continue to be homeless. women and children will flee from domestic violence. Young people will feel abandoned as they deal with a new independence.People will be forced from their homes in Gaza and Mosul. Those with mental health issues and those struggling with addiction and substance abuse will be left on our streets.

We will continue to be challenged to provide a safe haven for vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods as well as those who come to our shores seeking asylum.

Today is Sunday when Christians gather to worship and pray. The image of the Homeless Jesus is a reminder that we are called to see our mentor in faith among those neglected by the political, economic and religious structures of our community.

Homelessness: we can't afford to ignore it

This year, Homeless Persons' Week will look at how ignoring homelessness causes significant costs to individuals, government and society.

Jesus the Forgiving Victim with James Alison

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Jesuit Celebration

The Jesuits are celebrating the 200th anniversary of their restoration. Frank Brennan provides a classic Australian flavour to the  jubilee.

The first Jesuit I ever knew was Brian Stoney who mentored me into solidarity with vulnerable people as we worked in Fitzroy creating a space for men with chronic alcoholic issues.

My days in Melbourne were enriched with a connection with the Jesuit House at Parkville and some study under the wise guidance of Noel Ryan. Friends from those days included the witty Michael McGurr and the urbane Michael Smith.

As I ventured into the mosh pit of Catholic journalism I looked to the experience of Michael Kelly, Andy Hamilton and Richard Leonard. 

The list would not be complete without acknowledging the poetry of Peter Steele who like Gerard Manly Hopkins I admired from the written page.My shelves have been populated with the writings of Christopher Gleeson, Brendan Byrne and John Wilcken.I have sung the music of Christopher Willcock and stayed awake for my Trinity classes with Peter Beer.

And now firmly immersed into the commitment to social change and solidarity with the First peoples of this land I tip my biretta to those great "meddlesome priests" Frank Brennan and Mark Raper

Finally I give thanks to the Jesuits for one of my regular places of pilgrimage at St Canice's Church in Kings Cross. 

Celebrate with these men who have been challenging, inspiring,nurturing and salt of the earth

Australian Jesuit Province Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Monday, August 04, 2014

August Prayer for Refugees

"That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights." Pope Francis' Universal Prayer Intention for August 2014.Will you join Pope Francis in praying for refugees during August?
You may choose to post your prayer to the Social Spirituality site
You may choose to light a prayer candle

Messages of the Holy Father for World Days of Migrants and Refugees 2014 (5 August 2013)

God, no one is stranger to you
And no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,
Those separated from their loved ones,
Those who are lost
And those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,
And help us always to show your kindness to strangers
And those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Who too was a refugee and migrant
Who travelled to another land
Searching for a home.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Global Day of Prayer for Peace in Iraq Set for Aug. 6

“Please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please.” Inspired by these words of Pope Francis (June 27, 2014), the international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, united with His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, appeals to all persons of good will to join in a Global Day of Prayer for Peace to be held on August 6, 2014—the Feast of the Transfiguration.

The feast of Transfiguration marks the moment when Jesus, on Mount Tabor, appears to three of his disciples in a state of glory, shortly before His ultimate trial on Calvary. This feast holds out a sign of hope for humanity: it is a source of courage when obstacles appear impossible to surmount; a sign that light is stronger than darkness; and testimony that death can turn into life.
Meant to be observed in churches and homes across the country, this Global Day of Prayer in the midst of so much suffering in Iraq—particularly for the ancient Christian community of Mosul—tells the world at large that US Christians have not forgotten and abandoned their suffering brothers and sisters.

Patriarch Sako has personally composed this Prayer for Peace:
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience, 
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever.

† Louis Raphael I Sako
To join the ACN candle vigil for the faithful in Iraq, please click here.
The Patriarch said: “Let us unite our voices and hearts before the Lord of peace. May the light of Tabor fill the hearts of all suffering people with consolation and hope. May the message of Tabor, through our prayers, inspire the leaders of Iraq to sacrifice personal interests for the common good and welfare.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. (USA); (UK); (AUS); (IRL); (CAN)

Friday, August 01, 2014

Catholic Prison Ministry Blocked By Queensland Governemnt

The Catholic Prison Ministry and the Prisoner’s Legal Service have had their annual tours of Queensland prisons scrapped, with the state’s Corrective Services department finding “no demonstrated need” for the group interviews.

The advocacy groups have collectively visited the state’s prisons for about 20 years. They speak to prisoners and their action committees about issues within the prison which impact on inmates
The Catholic Prison Ministry has also used the information gathered on the tours as part of its annual report into the state’s corrections facilities.

But with Corrective Services moving under the Attorney-General’s department purview, the tours were stopped.
Read more:

When the State sees "no demonstrated need" for the Church's oversight of its Prison system then we know something is "rotten in the State of Queensland. This is the type of Catholicism I stand with in full solidarity, built on the teachings of Jesus to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners". Yes, at its heart Christianity is about social upheaval and holy anarchy against the power of the Empire.

I hope to see some challenge to this decision from those who have influence in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane Archbishop Mark ColeridgeBrian Finnigan Mark Percival Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of BrisbaneThe Catholic Leader

Read the 2013 Queensland Prisons Report here