Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Images that Open Your Eyes: Christmas

For the last six days of the 12 Days of Christmas I feature a Christmas image from the work of Richard Campbell

As we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas I greet my diverse Facebook network with the universal message of peace on earth and good will to all.
May the ancient story of a child born in occupied territory open our hearts to the work of defending human rights.
May the birth of every child call us to our communal responsibility to protect children,to take them on wild adventures and to let them grow into the unique person they care called to be.
May the the image of a family forced to seek refuge and asylum far from their home inform our political choices as citizens of a global village.
May our messages of good wishes and happy holidays not blind us to the work of justice making and non-violence.
May the lights and decorations of the season remind us of our mission to bring light to the darkness and celebration to life.
May our gifting be generous as we remember those who live in situations of poverty and exploitation.
May we hear angelic voices singing our dream of peace on earth

The Sixth Day of Christmas

To celebrate the sixth day of Christmas I have chosen the carol of the Little Drummer Boy.In recent weeks my news feed has featured the haunting rendition by Pentatonix which is one of the best contemporary renditions available.
However the version I share with you today is one that speaks of my own life. My father was a big fan of Bing Crosby and the era he represented. I was very much a child of the Bowie era and the differences are beautifully expressed in this amazing clip of the two greats singing the Little Drummer Boy.
My father and I both loved music and each Christmas the old Crosby vinyl would come out be played throughout the season.I don't know that Dad ever listened to Bowie as he wasn't part of the amazing collection of records lovingly collected over a lifetime.
We were far apart for our last Christmas in 1991.. I was in Papua New Guinea and he was in Geelong. The following November our music stopped and we played Bing's Irish Lullaby as his funeral was celebrated. Bing's "Merry Christmas" album remains a treasured memory.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Ffith Day of Christmas St Thomas a Beckett

The fifth day of Christmas is dedicated to the martyr, Thomas a Beckett. When I was studying for my HSC in 1970, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot was one of the set texts on the theme of Authority and the Individual.
The tension between politics and religion has been one of the formative features of the Westminster model of Government that we have inherited.Our history has been played out in the theatre of controversy between the interests of the Sate and the Church.
Some of my earliest memories of this conflict was learning that the Irish Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix stood in public opposition to the conscription of young men to the First World War by the Government of Billy Hughes.
Today's image is my appearance as the herald in Eliot's play. The performance was staged at St Anthony's Church Marsfield in about 1976.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fourth Day of Christmas: The Holy Innocents

The fourth day of Christmas is the day of the Holy Innocents.In the festivity and family get togethers this feast comes out of left field. it commemorates the incident recorded only in Matthew's Gospel (2:13-23) of Herod's massacre of the young newly born males in Bethlehem.This feast dates from the 5th Century.
The day is rich in political and religious meaning. The violence against children has not diminished in the pages of history. We are confronted by the stories and institutional violence exposed in  The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The children of Peshawar.as well as those caught up in the Srebrenica massacre,and the child victims of the Rwanda genocide are only a few of the tragic litany of violence in our own day.
The detention of children from families of refugees and asylum seekers has stirred us into political protest and public shaming of our Government leaders.
Yet in the midst of all this ancient and contemporary horror a cry goes out from our Christmas celebrations that "God is with Us'. For the one who comes among us as a vulnerable child has broken the cycle of human violence in the image of a man on a the cross.
Mothers will weep for the lost children of our history and fathers will grieve with heavy hearts. But our belief is that the killing, the abuse, the exploitation and neglect of children is a political situation we can change.
This is also a religious moment when we recognize that God is there in the midst of suffering, bleeding, crying and abandoned because the cycle of violence has been broken by the prince of peace.
The "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. The carol was performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod orders all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play

Sermon for the Day Very Revd Peter Catt

Friday, December 26, 2014

Third Day of Christmas: Feast of St John

The third day of Christmas is the feast of St John.Popularly known as the evangelist and the "disciple whom Jesus loved", John is the author of a Gospel and the Book Of Revelation
I was baptized in the Church of St John the Evangelist in North Geelong and for a brief time was a student at the parish primary school.
The images I offer here are my collection of photos from St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane.
A Cathedral is more often than not seen by most people from the outside. I have tried to capture the place of the Cathedral building in city life from Labor Day to concerts and public events.
And now for something completely different: A Trad Priest blog on the beloved with a pic that I have never seen before http://www.traditionalcatholicpriest.com/…/st-john-the-bel…/
St John's Cathedral Brisbane http://www.stjohnscathedral.com.au/

Second Day of Christmas: St Stephen

The second day of Christmas in the Catholic tradition is the feast of Stephen the martyr.
Brisbane's Catholic Cathedral is dedicated to St Stephen and is the home of some remarkable contemporary art work as well as being a centre for religion and spirituality.
The Cathedral of St Stephen precinct includes the historical Pugin Chapel with its memorial to St Mary of the Cross McKillop.
This album is a collection of image I have taken of the space and community at the Cathedral of St Stephen.
Cathedral of St Stephen http://www.cathedralofststephen.org.au/

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pope Francis' Preferred Prayer for Good Humour

Pope Francis appealed to officials to take care of their spiritual life (CNS)
CNS, meantime, reports the Vatican confirms that the prayer below is the one recited by the Pope:

Prayer for Good Humor

Grant me, O Lord, good digestion,
and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and
the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to
treasure all that is good and that
doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things
back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom,
grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that
obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke
to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.-St. Thomas More, Chancellor ot King Henry VIII

Christmas Greeting 2014

As we begin the celebration of the 12 days of Christmas I greet my online  network with the universal message of peace on earth and good will to all.
May the ancient story of a child born in occupied territory open our hearts to the work of defending human rights.
May the the image of a family forced to seek refuge and asylum far from their home inform our political choices as citizens of a global village.
May our messages of good wishes and happy holidays not blind us to the work of justice making and non-violence.
May the lights and decorations of the season remind us of our mission to bring light to the darkness and celebration to life.
May our gifting be generous as we remember r those who live in situations of poverty and exploitation.
May the birth of every child cal us to our communal responsibility to protect children,to take them on wild adventures and to let them grow into the unique person they care called to be
May we hear angelic voices singing our dream of peace on earth

Friday, December 19, 2014

Victims of Violence December 2014

Victims of Violence

As a Christian and follower of 'The Way" of Yeshua of Nazareth I must also add to my invocation for eternal peace
Man Haron Monis
The Taliban Soldiers who massacred the children in Pakistan
The person who killed the children in Manoora
Mt 5:38-48
[Jesus said to his disciples:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Popular Catholic Forum Mocks Islam

Catholica is an Australian based online news and discussion  site with a banner declaring: Welcome to an excitingly different way of looking at faith and spirituality.

It seems that mocking Islam is an accepted practice in the discussion forum. 

Here is part of the discussion from a thread headed The Moslem community in Australia

The Moslem community in Australia (Main Forum)

by HelenThe other side of Australia, Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 19:08 (3 days ago) 
Is there anyone out there who knows about how a person (always a man?) gets to be an imam or a sheikh?
From what I have heard on the radio, it only takes being male with an ego to become an Imam.

In response to Helen I suggested:

Perhaps you should change your radio station if this is you primary source of information Is it Radio Bolt?
As a regular contributor to this forum I think it is not unrealistic to expect that you have some skills in sourcing material online. Why could you not do a google search before you hit your keyboard?
You might like to take the time to read this article.
And by the way, it's not all bad being a man!!

At the time of posting this blog item the posters to the forum have all moved onto other issues. I find it astounding that none, including the editors seem to be disturbed by the content of Helen's post. Well, Catholica is a long way from my expectations of an "excitingly different way of looking at faith and spirituality."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Images That Open Your Eyes; Sydney Siege 2014

In this image:Rabbi Zalman Kastel Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, and Father Patrick McInerney 

It is important, given the situation that has played out today, that we remain united and show solidarity with each other. 

Extremists cause panic to cause division in our society. Let's not give the extremists what they want.#illridewithyou #sydneysiege #letspraytogether Yesterday evening Columban Fr Patrick McInerney (of the Centre for  Christian-Muslim Relations) attended a multi-faith prayer vigil for peace at Lakemba Mosque.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Praying During Sydney Seige

Tonight I will join my neighbours and friends at the Holland Park Mosquei n prayer and solidarity.
As a Christian in the Catholic tradition I stand with my sisters and brothers of Islam, united in our commitment to live as people of peace and non-violence.
I pray with all who believe that prayer is an act of the human spirit that opens us to power beyond ourselves yet within ourselves.
As an Australian I offer my hand in welcome and my arms in embrace all who come to our shores with their rich heritage of diversity of language, religion and all that contributes to build our culture.


For immediate release

Mosques, synagogues and churches open to pray for Sydney hostages and national unity
Mosques, synagogues and churches are inviting the public to gather tonight to pray for a peaceful resolution to the hostage situation in Sydney, for unity, and against violence, fear and hatred of all kinds.

Mosques, including Lakemba Mosque (63-65 Wangee Rd, Lakemba) and Auburn Gallipoli Mosque (15-19 Gelibolu Parade, Auburn) in Sydney, Omar Bin Alkhatab Mosque (658 Marion Rd, Park Holme) in Adelaide and Holland Park Mosque (309 Nursery Rd, Holland Park) in Brisbane will join with churches and synagogues across Australia in opening their doors from 8pm for prayer and as a show of community solidarity.

"In times of great adversity it is imperative that we remain calm, united and stand together in solidarity. Our hearts and prayers are with the hostages and their families," said Samier Dandan, President of the Lebanese Muslim Association.

“We are calling on all those who believe in prayer, to pray for the safety of the hostages, and that our nation will not become hos
tage to fear and hatred," said Jarrod McKenna, National Director of Common Grace and Westcity Church Teaching Pastor. St George's Anglican Church in Paddington and St Mark's Darling Point are among those that have already opened their churches to the public to pray.

Ali Kadri, President of the Holland Park Mosque in Brisbane said, "One of the greatest strengths of our nation is that we come out stronger from every calamity - and we will come much stronger out of this and strengthen our country through our unity and diversity"

In Adelaide, faith leaders from a range of traditions and denominations will gather at Omar Bin Alkhatab Mosque from 8pm to pray for those being held hostage and for national unity.

"At times like this, there is a clear choice before us: unity or division," said Pastor Brad Chilcott, "We can put our arms around each other and share our common fears, or we can turn on one another because of them. It is the choice for unity that will build a healthy future."

"Our clear message is that hate and prejudice only add evil to evil, and violence to violence. Don't buy into it," he said.

In Melbourne, the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation synagogue will open for prayers from 7pm (572 Inkerman St, North Caulfield) and in Canberra, the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre will host an interfaith prayer service from 730pm (180 London Circuit, ACT).

For more information or interviews please contact

Pastor Brad Chilcott 0410 548 637 (Activate Church Pastor, Welcome to Australia National Director)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Catholic Bishops’ statement in Lima on the road to Paris (And other interesting reading)

On Wednesday, December  10 while the UN discussed reducing emissions and adapting to climate change at this year’s COP20 negotiations in Lima, Peru, a group of Catholic bishops issued a statement calling for world governments to “put an end to the fossil fuel era.” Planet Experts Report
Monsignor Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón, Archbishop of Ayacucho, and president of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, said: "We bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe have engaged in intense dialogue on the issue of climate change, because we can see it's the poorest people who are impacted the most, despite the fact they've contributed the least to causing it.BBC News
The statement came Wednesday from nine bishops from four continents and five countries, primarily from the Global South, with five from host country Peru. That included Archbishop Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón of Ayacucho, president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference.NCR Online
Read the full statement here 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Australian Catholic Bishops: Human Rights Day: Time for Australia to Take Stock

9 December 2014

Human Rights Day: Time for Australia to Take Stock

On Human Rights Day, the Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council has called on Government to take stock of its human rights performance.

“Recent developments in Indigenous affairs and immigration policy give cause for anyone concerned about human rights to ask, ‘What’s happening to our nation?’” Bishop Christopher Saunders said.

“What’s happening in a nation willing to outlay billions of dollars in on- and offshore immigration detention that undermines human dignity and causes irreparable harm? The cost of running the Manus Island and Nauru facilities alone is over $1 billion annually.

“At the same time, Commonwealth and State governments seem unwilling to scrape together a small fraction of that amount to provide basic services to remote Indigenous communities. Anywhere up to 150 remote towns in Western Australia face closure because the State Government says it can’t find a meagre $90 million to fund municipal and essential services that were recently offloaded to the states by the Commonwealth Government. Aboriginal communities in South Australia are also at risk,” Bishop Saunders said.

“It seems that Australia’s human rights record is being undermined by policies aimed at denying people sanctuary.

“People in the cities and regional centres of Australia see it as their right to have basic municipal services. How can we possibly say that Australian citizens in remote communities do not have the same right?

“Last week’s changes in Australia’s asylum legislation strike out most references to the Refugee Convention – the international human rights standard for the treatment of asylum seekers, including our basic obligation to ensure no one is deported to danger.

“As always, the benchmark of a country’s human rights performance is seen in how it treats the most vulnerable. Australia is failing the test for First Australians seeking to maintain connection with their traditional, ancestral homelands and for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands,” Bishop Saunders concluded.

For further information:
Bishop Christopher Saunders 0418 260 155
Mr John Ferguson (02) 8306 3499

Tel: +61 (0) 2 8306 3499 Fax: +61 (0) 2 8306 3498
Email: admin@acsjc.org.au Website: www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au

Friday, December 05, 2014

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.call for Day of Solidarity with the Christians of the Middle East

Sunday 7 December 2014 has been designated a Day of Solidarity with the Christians of the Middle East by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Australian Bishops received a letter of request from the Conference of Bishops and Representatives of the Middle Eastern Apostolic Churches in Australia and New Zealand seeking the support of the Australian Catholics. Read full text of the statement here.
On 14 December 2014, a delegation of Australian Catholic Bishops will visit refugees in Kurdistan, Iraq and Lebanon to offer spiritual support and humanitarian aid. The delegation will comprise Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Christopher Prowse, the Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous, the Melkite Archbishop Robert Rabbat, the Chaldean Archbishop Jibrael Kassab and the Maronite Archbishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay.Contact details for messages of goodwill for this visit are here
My hope is that Australian Catholics including members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference will read and rake on board the Official Statement of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. It should be essential reading for the Bishop in the December 14 delegation.
In the midst of all destruction which is taking place in the Middle East and with the recent events like killings and displacements which affected Christians and others, and in the midst of the conflicts in Syria and the attack on Gaza, we hear some officials of Western governments giving  declarations from time to time or publishing some “studies” to express their unreal empathy with Christians of certain areas and showing their solidarity with them, describing their circumstances in a way that supports the logic of minorities. But the most recent of these declarations  is that of the French government regarding its readiness to accept the Iraqi Christians and granting them a political asylum, in addition to the study issued by the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs that describes the presence of the Christians in the Middle East as “a shadow of its former  status”.
We, in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, would like to confirm that the difficult circumstances in the East do not justify  anybody’s attempt to misuse them as “Trojan Horse” to empty the East from its Christians, declaring  that what Christians are confronting in the East is similar to what is happening to religious or ethnic minorities in other places of the world. We believe that helping the  inhabitants of the East, Christians or Muslims, starts with  uprooting terrorism  from its homeland and  stop nourishing the movements of extremism and Takfirism(religious prejudice) , whose financial resources  are very well known as well as  the states and the governments that offer them  the ideological, logistic and military support through undeclared international alliances. The best way to help Christians and Muslims in the East is  by restoring peace through dialogue and political solution, and through practical rejection of all resources that nourish the reasons of this extremism, refusing the injustice towards Palestinians, adapting an  honest Media that shows the active role of the Christians in the life of their homelands away from any statistical division of people.
We say it to all: the only embracing place for Christians and Muslims of this area is their homelands, in which they have been living together for many centuries, building a unique civilization recognized  by a real partnership; a civilization that transferred to the  West the human heritage and  enriching it. We, the Christians of this land, will not accept to be treated through the logic of minorities which is imposed on us from abroad, and we reconfirm that we were and are still committed to the message of our Gospel, which has arrived to us from our ancestors 2000 years ago. Our forefathers carried and transferred this message to us  enduring numerous afflictions.  And we will keep this seed which we have  received here in the East, growing it and being loyal to it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Catholic Bishop joins Religious plea to ABC board

Bishop Peter Ingham meets the media in Wollongong. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Almost 30 religious leaders have united to plead with the ABC board to refrain from planned cuts to the national broadcaster's coverage of religion, which they say is "crucial in the life of our nation" and its identity.
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu leaders sent an an open letter addressed to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott and Chairman James Spigelman late on Tuesday, on the eve of a board meeting on Wednesday, saying they were "especially concerned" that the proposed cuts would include:
  • Abolishing the position of executive producer of TV religion, leaving ABC television without a specialist head of the topic;
  • Placing the Compass program under a commissioning editor responsible for a broad range of programs, with no expertise in religion;
The Signatories
The Most Rev Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne
Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia
Rev Professor Andrew Dutney, President, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly
The Rev John Henderson, Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia
Commissioner James Condon, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army, Australia Eastern Territory
Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, President, Organisation of Rabbis of Australia
Elder Jeffrey Cummings, Pacific Area Seventy, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Professor Nihil Agar, Chairman, Hindu Council of Australia
Professor Raja Jayaraman, Vice Chairman, Hindu Council of Australia
Bishop Philip Huggins, Interim General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)
Elizabeth Stone, Associate Interim General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)
Simon Smart, Director of the Centre for Public Christianity
Peter Wertheim AM, Executive Council of Australian Jewry
Jeremy Jones AM, Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council
Ghaith Krayem, President, Islamic Council of Victoria
Maha Abdo OAM, CEO, Muslim Women Australia
Ahmet Polat, Executive Director, Australian Intercultural Society
Ahmet Keskin, Executive Director and Co-founder, Affinity Intercultural Foundation
Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director, UnitingJustice Australia
Rev Tim Costello AO, CEO of World Vision Australia
Marcelle Mogg, CEO, Catholic Social Service Australia
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia
Professor Neville Rochow SC, Joint National Director for Interfaith Relations, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Alan Wakeley, Public Affairs Department Adviser (Australia and PNG), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Dr Brian Adams, Director, Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue, Griffith University and Convenor G20 Interfaith Summit
Professor Samina Yasmeen AM, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, University of Western Australia
Commissioner Floyd Tidd, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army, Australia Southern Territory
Bishop Peter Ingham, Chair, Australian Catholic Media Council
Rev Dr Richard Leonard SJ, Director, Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Read full text from the Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, December 01, 2014

Bishop Peter Comensoli Sings for the Release of Children in Detention.

The promotional blurb for this video introduces some well known faces singing  their protest at Government policy that keeps refugee children in detention.Many of the faces in the still from the clip are recognized from the world of sport, media and business.

As I watched the video for the first time I was please to see in the back row,Peter Comensoli who has recently been named as the Catholic Bishop of Broken Bay.

Congrats Bishop Peter on your voice supporting the release of children in detention. Can't wait to see the clip of you leading every member of theAustralian Catholic Bishops Conference singing this song