Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Papal Caganer in the Nativity

My domestic  Nativity for 2015 is pretty inclusive. Garden gnomes, TV stars and statues of popular religion all get to come inside and bask in the 12 days of fame. You might wonder about the papal guest in the corner. 

Pope Benedict is now available in his retirement as a Caganer (Catalan pronunciation:[kəɣəˈne])  a small statue found in Catalonia, in neighbouring areas with Catalan culture such as Andorra, and in other parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy. The figure is depicted in the act of defecationCaganer is Catalanfor "shitter".

The reasons for placing a man who is in the act of excreting solid waste from his posterior in a scene which is widely considered holy are as follows:
  1. Just tradition.
  2. Scatological humor.
  3. Finding the Caganer is a fun game, especially for children.
  4. The Caganer, by creating feces, is fertilizing the Earth. However, this is probably an a posteriori explanation, and nobody would say they put the Caganer on the Nativity scene for this reason.
  5. The Caganer represents the equality of all people e.g. regardless of status, race, gender everyone defecates.
The article for the above quote also makes reference to the Catalan greeting before eating;  "menja be caga fort" (Eat well, shit strong).

Caganer a gift for Christmas, figures, crafts  Check out World Leaders Cajaners here. There is now a Pope Francis Caganer available so he may make an appearance in 2016!!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mark Scott Cartoonist Herald Sun Melbourne
As we celebrate the 12  days of  Christmas I greet my diverse social media  network with the universal message of peace on earth and good will to all.

I wrote this piece last year. It bears repeating just as our work of building peace and community is a constant refrain to life’s song.

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

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Week to Sign the Catholic Climate Petition!!

Over 600,000 Catholics signed the petition. Help us get to 1 million!
World leaders will meet in the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris (called COP21) in late November 2015, to sign a treaty to tackle climate change. After decades of failed negotiations, let’s urge our governments to be more ambitious to solve the climate crisis (more info below).



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Face of Islam

Peace Rally Brisbane 2003 Tony Robertson Photography

The face of Islam in my city is not the face of terrorism
The face of Islam in my city is a couple standing in solidarity for peace not war.
The face of Islam in my city is like the faces of my brothers and sisters who walk the streets building community amidst diversity.
The face if Islam in my city looks at me with hope.
The face of Islam in my city is different and brings rich colour to my community
The face of Islam in my city challenges me to discover, to learn and to embrace.
The face of Islam in my city is human.
The face of Islam in my city is welcome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Brisbane Catholics Join The Peoples March For Climate

George Gittoes Sydney Peace Prize 2015

As I grow older and perhaps a little wiser I am more convinced that art will touch the heart and challenge the attitudes of people as much as politics and religion.

The winner of the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize, George Gittoes deserves to be among those we name as national treasures.His biography  is a litany of grace and power for social change.

In 2015 George Gittoes was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize

Some highlights of a remarkable life

1986: Travels to Nicaragua, Central America and visits the arts collective on Solentiname Islands, collaborating with Miriam Guevara, Olivia Silva and Ernesto Cardenal.

1992: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting Ancient Prayer, inspired by the death from motor neurone disease of his close friend and artistic collaborator Ronaldo Cameron.

1994: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting The Preacher, which came out of the Rwandan series of works.

1997: Travels to Northern Ireland. After contact with both Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant paramilitaries, commences a series of works based on confrontations between the two groups.

Contributes to the group exhibition, Sarajevo, developed by Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney and touring nationally.
2002: Commissioned by the Visible Art Foundation
to create a painting for the Republic Apartment Tower in Melbourne to mark the anniversary
of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The commission is cancelled once the work is completed and the painting, War on Terra, is subsequently exhibited at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 11 September.
Explore his work, but more than that take it to heart and engage with it and watch what happens!!!!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Travelling To Freedom

I was blest to have parents with a love of music. Not only did we have plenty of music to listen to on old 33s, I also had opportunities because of my Catholic schooling to sing in choirs. Quite a bit of my life has been spent  "Singing My Way Through Catholicism"

The first choir I sang with was at St Patrick's Primary School in Geelong West, Victoria, Australia where we had a regular Sunday gig at Ss Peter and Paul's Church. Our organist was a young Roger Heagney who would go on to become one of Australia's leading organ and Harpsichord players.

The usual hymn book of the era was the Living Parish Hymn Book, a classic in Catholic Parishes before Glory and Praise, As One Voice, and Gather landed on the pews.

Rumblings of change were evident in the 60s not only in rock music and protest music but also in the choir lofts of parishes.In 1971 one of the authors of the Living Parish Hymnal, Tony Newman together with Peter Stone published Travelling to Freedom which was promoted as a song book not a hymn book.

By this time the wings of change had taken me in full flight and unlike the Living Parish Hymnal I now had a collection of religious and popular music with enough chords supplied to keep me singing for a lifetime.

Travelling to Freedom had all the elements of 70s publication. The text ran across, over and circular, the pages were done with different layout and even challenging colours that swallowed the chords and lyrics.It's contents included some of the familiar lyrics from the LPH alongside the new words of Bob Dylan,Malvina Reynolds, Peter Kearney, Pete Seeger and even the Beatles.In a wise move the editors left out Lennon's Imagine and gave us Eleanor Rigby. These were the days before the Catholic Bishops published their preferred list of recommended hymns and songs.

This was more than a songbook and it has been a faithful companion now for over 40 years. It is also a manual of quotes to inspire and challenge. There are the great voices from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures alongside MLK. Bonhoeffer, J.H Newman, Erik Erikson, JFK and lots of other men.. As a product of its time only a few women's voices were included. Even the list of thanks for the publication only has 4 women noted out of 46 names.But as the song on page 156 reminds us, The times they are a changin'..

Travelling to Freedom deserves a tribute page as it hardly features in search engines and its contribution to religious and popular music in catholic circles has largely been neglected.

You can borrow copies here.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh Receives the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned for bridging Eastern and Western spirituality, is the 2015 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award recipient.

Bishop Martin Amos traveled to Deer Park Monastery in southern California to present the award on Saturday, October 31, 2015 to the 89-year old Zen master. Sister Chan Khong and Brother Phap Dang accepted the award on behalf of Thich Nhat Hanh, who continues to recover in San Francisco, in the presence of 120 monastics and 500 retreat participants.Read full report here

Thich Nhat Hanh's Speech at the Vatican, December 2, 2014

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sr Pauline Coll RIP

My work as a photographer takes me to places and graced encounters where the images from my lens become icons of wonder.

To the left of this image is  a good friend and mentor, Sr Pauline Coll sgs who passed away on 9 October 2015.  The photo was taken in August 2014 to celebrate the work of the Young Christian Workers Past Members Association.

The image captures much of Pauline's spirit and enthusiasm of her 77 years, of which she lived as a member of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for 56 years. Pauline was one of those women that exuded joy and presence. Her legacy of justice seeking continues in the work of ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) Read the tributes and comments here

I post this tribute with a great sense of loss and admiration for Pauline's presence most often when i was at Justice Place in Woolloongabba, a hub of justice and community building.

Friday, October 02, 2015

I Support the Queensland Bill to Reinstate Civil Partnerships

The Relationships (Civil Partnerships) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 proposed by the Queensland Parliament seeks to reinstate legislative provisions removed in 2012 in respect of legally recognised partnerships between two adults, to:

  • allow a state-sanctioned ceremony prior to registration of a civil partnership
  • allow such a relationship to be registered as a ‘civil partnership’, rather than a ‘registered relationship’. 

The Bill would also support the transition to a digitised births, deaths and marriages registration service, establishing electronic lodgement as the means of lodgement for births and deaths.  It would recognise the validity of digitised copies of source documents relating to registrations of life events, the same legal status as the original paper versions. 

This legislation first step on the journey of honouring the human dignity and commitment of same sex couples. It is also a basic human right that protects the legal status of the relationship. Written submissions addressing the Bill’s proposals as outlined above are now invited, and will be accepted until 4.00 pm on Monday, 19 October 2015.A guide to making submissions is available here.

I find it bizarre that so many of my fellow Catholics get upset by this. The Church blesses all sorts of inanimate objects including  houses, cars, footballs,  statues and buildings. It has blessings for all sorts of people from students to pilgrims but won't even offer a blessing ritual to same sex couples.

The official book of blessings however does include a Blessing of Organisations Concerned With Public Needs so perhaps Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group  could qualify for that. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

For Those Who Come Across the Seas

Our anthem is sung from small school assemblies to footy finals. Most know the first verse and are even surprised to discover the second verse with its lines that challenge Government refugee policy of recent times:

For those who come across the seas
We've boundless plans to share

These lines will now be given life and fire as the title of this year's Social Justice statement from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council The statement  summary in video format may not have the  the grandeur of a full choir and orchestral setting.of the anthem, however it  presents lyrics that touch our hearts.

It is a subtle presentation of the facts about refugees and asylum seekers in our world and local community.It is also a challenge and an invitation to action.

We all have a role to play
What can we do as individuals and a community to help our brothers and sisters and work for a conversion in our nation? The task is not easy, but there are many things that we can do.

First, we can make sure that Australians understand the issues better. Quiet conversation and example are powerful tools for conversion.

We can also support the organisations that work to help asylum seekers: organisations like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Catholic Social Services, Jesuit Refugee Services, Asylum Seekercentres and many others.

We can work within our parishes to ensure that they are welcoming places. Creating social events, organising or joining support networks, introducing refugees and hearing their stories: all these are ways in which we can recognise the humanity of those who have come in need of protection.

Politicians need to know that we feel passionately about this issue, and not just at the ballot box, when we cast our vote. Writing to local members and ministers does have an effect, and can give encouragement to those in Parliament who also seek a better way.

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office is a valuable source of advocacy and information. The Office provides education resources for schools and materials for the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees – the last Sunday in August.

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council distributes a Ten Steps leaflet that will include ways in which we can work to promote understanding and help such people in practical ways.

Many dioceses have very active Justice and Peace offices that can make suggestions about practical steps you can take or organisations you can support.

At the Brisbane launch of the Statement we sang All Are Welcome, a song often sung in local parishes

Monday, August 31, 2015

World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.

1 September to 4 October is Time for Creation.
The beginning and the end date of Time for Creation are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity, respectively.
September 1st was proclaimed as  a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. The Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On 4 October, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, known to many as the author of the Canticle of the Creatures.
The proposal to celebrate a Time for Creation during these five weeks was made by the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in 2007.The following year, the WCC Central Committee invited churches to observe Time for Creation through prayers and actions
Pope Francis has designated September 1st as the annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. He hopes this day will be a time for individuals and communities to “reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”
To celebrate this auspicious new day in our calendar year, Catholic Earthcare Australia have partnered with the Franciscans (OFMs) to develop a beautiful downloadable prayer resource, featuring a prayer for creation from Laudato si’. We hope that you will find it a useful resource for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.
It is our profound conviction that the future of the human family depends also on how we safeguard – both prudently and compassionately, with justice and fairness – the gift of creation that our Creator has entrusted to us. Therefore, we acknowledge in repentance the wrongful mistreatment of our planet, which is tantamount to sin before the eyes of God. We reaffirm our responsibility and obligation to foster a sense of humility and moderation so that all may feel the need to respect creation and to safeguard it with care. Together, we pledge our commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation; we appeal to all people of goodwill to consider ways of living less wastefully and more frugally, manifesting less greed and more generosity for the protection of God’s world and the benefit of His people.
In May 2014 Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, held private talks in Jerusalem and signed a Common Declaration in which they pledged to continue on the path towards unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Their encounter marked the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964.

Prayers From The Pacific

Saturday, August 29, 2015

World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015

My introduction to the cultural diversity of Catholicism began in my childhood parish of Ss Peter and Paul's Geelong West. The chapel at St Patrick's Primary School in the parish was the base for the Italian Community.  As a young boy i can remember the intrigue and wonder when we  were given a Chinese priest,Fr Leo Tien  as an assistant. He had come from studies in Rome and led our introduction to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

My young adult years with the Capuchin Friars  enriched my understanding of community and nurtured my passion for work among peoples of non-English speaking backgrounds.Since those days I have had opportunities to immerse myself in cross cultural settings that include the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

Each year in Brisbane I celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees with friends and fellow pilgrims at the annual Migrant and Refugee Mass at the Cathedral of St Stephen. 

The images I have captured from recent  annual Masses tell the story of a Church Without Ethnic Frontiers.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wear It Purple Day 2015

When I was young I liked purple. However my parents and community didn't think it was an appropriate colour so I was not allowed to wear it.

I loved Lent and Advent because the Church was decorated in purple and the priests wore purple vestments. But no-one told me that purple was a colour for celebration. 

So now I wear purple in solidarity with young people who respect diversity and sexuality. I wear purple as an older man to make up for the years I missed out on this experience as a young man.
#WearItPurple ‪#‎ColourYourPerception‬

Australian Catholics For Equality Facebook Page

I have recently accepted an invitation to join the advisory board of Australian Catholics for Equality.

This new role provides guidance to the Council of Moderators on issues affecting LGBTIQ Catholic persons, their family, friends and allies. The Advisory Board provides practical and strategic advice to support the total work of the organising community, improving the lives of LGBTIQ Catholics, their families, friends and allies to promote a just and inclusive church and society.

I look forward to the challenge and the opportunities of this new and exciting project.

Tony Robertson, Advisory Board Member
Tony is a Brisbane based social worker, who also uses his skills as a photographer to promote social change and equity in the community. He spent six years with the Capuchin Friars as a young adult and has been involved in various public ministries of the Church as a speaker, educator and retreat leader. Tony is an occasional commentator on LGBTI issues for the ABC and has extensive media experience writing press releases and responding to interview requests. He is currently the Spiritual Life facilitator for the L’Arche community in Brisbane. Tony is a member of the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and supports Gar’ban’djee’lum Network an independent social network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, sistergirls and brotherboys (GLBTSB) in and around Brisbane.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sr Veronica Brady 1929-2015 RIP

My life and work in photography has taken me to extraordinary places and put me in contact with inspiring people.

In October 2006 I had the opportunity to take a few shots of Sr Veronica Brady when she was the guest speaker for the Micah Projects Inc Annual General Meeting.See the set here.
In Kath Gordon's biography she is described as the Larrikin Angel. In this image I have captured her with another Catholic larrikin, Peter Kennedy.  Go Petr's right is Karyn Walsh CEO of Micah Projects Inc.
The news of her death in August 2015 has been marked by tributes and acknowledgements from the literary and religious community.

Among my treasures is a copy of her book Caught In The Draught which I will carry around and read again as a reminder of the contribution of this small nun who walked tall on our cultural landscape.
In her own words:
Indeed one of the things I have always loved in Catholicism is its comprehensiveness, the way in which people of all cultures, classes and psychological and moral shapes and sizes can all belong together and get on with one another. But that is also why I am troubled by the growing intolerance as Church authorities attempt to fit us all into one mould made in Rome which takes little account of local or cultural differences and the tendency to condemn any attempt to rethink our faith in terms of contemporary thought and experience. But who possibly can have the last word on God's ways with and in this world?
Examples abound, in the ‘war on terror’, American policy in the Middle East and so
on. But I would like to look at an example closer to home, the relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. Essentially there is a clash here of notions of ‘truth’, of conflicting notions of reality and value. But of the two it seems to me that ours is the more intransigent and determined that our ‘truth’, our way of living in the world, must prevail.
Roy Williams Review of Larrikin Angel

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Australian Catholics for Equality

I have recently accepted an invitation to join the advisory board of Australian Catholics for Equality.

This new role provides guidance to the Council of Moderators on issues affecting LGBTIQ Catholic persons, their family, friends and allies. The Advisory Board provides practical and strategic advice to support the total work of the organising community, improving the lives of LGBTIQ Catholics, their families, friends and allies to promote a just and inclusive church and society.

I look forward to the challenge and the opportunities of this new and exciting project.

Tony Robertson, Advisory Board Member
Tony is a Brisbane based social worker, who also uses his skills as a photographer to promote social change and equity in the community. He spent six years with the Capuchin Friars as a young adult and has been involved in various public ministries of the Church as a speaker, educator and retreat leader. Tony is an occasional commentator on LGBTI issues for the ABC and has extensive media experience writing press releases and responding to interview requests. He is currently the Spiritual Life facilitator for the L’Arche community in Brisbane. Tony is a member of the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and supports Gar’ban’djee’lum Network an independent social network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, sistergirls and brotherboys (GLBTSB) in and around Brisbane.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Holding The Man

Holding the Man came a generation after my Catholic schoolboy days but the cultural paradigm was familiar. This is a powerful screen production of one of the great Aussie love stories. I was honoured to attend the Brisbane preview and fundraising event for Queensland AIDS Council.

Throughout the story the Catholic Church as institution and cultural guide struggles with the rich dynamic of human intimacy and young love.Although Tim Kroenet gives the Jesuits a gold star for  being "relatively progressive and inclusive" the shine is tarnished at John's funeral the priest who knows that Tim regards John as his husband dismisses their relationship as mere friendship.
Catholic schoolboy life in the 60s and 70s was cruel and unwelcoming for those of us attracted to our peers. I sat for my HSC  in 1970 and for the six years of my life at St Joseph's College Geelong I had spent much of my break time in the school day with the same group of mates. Of that group three of us were gay but we had neither the language nor community to support each other's journey into sexuality. We went different ways into life's joys,hopes, grief and anguish.

I have my own connections to this love story. At one time I had a job interview at Xavier College and one of the members of the panel was disturbed that I wore odd socks.I wasn't offered the position.
I am proud that my old school is now a participating member of the Safe School Coalition. I have life membership of the Old Collegians and have been invited back as a Gay man to tell my story of a different era and to encourage inclusion and welcome as school and footy oval values.
Come and see this film when it is in your neighbourhood and in these localities.. The acting is passionate, the story is ours. ‪#‎HTMMovie‬
Need a guide to help you unpack the story?  Check out this set of Teacher's Notes

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Vatican picks music by English composer Paul Inwood as official Year of Mercy hymn

06 August 2015 17:40 by Liz Dodd
The Vatican has chosen a composition by English Catholic composer Paul Inwood to be the official setting for the hymn of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Mr Inwood’s setting was judged the best entry in an international competition organised by The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation and judged by a committee that included Mgr Massimo Palombella, Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

The text of the hymn in Latin and Italian was written by Jesuit Father Eugenio Costa and was sent to the 90 composers March 31, just over two weeks after Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy would open Dec. 8.
The verses feature lines from Scripture punctuated by the Latin phrase "in aeternum misericordia eius," which means "his mercy is forever."
The interspersed Latin, Inwood wrote in a press release, makes the verses "a kind of litany."
Like the text, he wrote, "my music is also a mixture, with elements in the style of a Taize response and a Gelineau tone," a modern homage to chant often used today when singing the Psalms at Mass and other liturgies.
Inwood said he wrote the English and French words of the song, and the Gelineau tone, which allows for a wide variety of syllables to be sung in every bar, should make it easy to translate the song into other languages as well

Eugenio Costa also recorded a great interview about the significance of Missa Luba, a setting I have loved since first hearing it in the late 60s.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pope Francis' Address to Second World Meeting of the Popular Movements

Pope Francis spoke on  Thursday  8 July 2015 at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, taking place in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

The World Meeting of Popular Movements, organized in collaboration with Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, brings together delegates from popular movements from around the world.
Quotable Quotes from the Speech

We want change in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to local problems. The globalization of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference!

Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.

As members of popular movements, you carry out your work inspired by fraternal love, which you show in opposing social injustice. When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor laborer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person, the exploited child, the mother who lost her child in a shootout because the barrio was occupied by drugdealers, the father who lost his daughter to enslavement…. when we think of all those names and faces, our hearts break because of so much sorrow and pain.  And we are deeply moved…. We are moved because “we have seen and heard” not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh. This is something quite different than abstract theorizing or eloquent indignation. It moves us; it makes us attentive to others in an effort to move forward together. That emotion which turns into community action is not something which can be understood by reason alone: it has a surplus of meaning which only peoples understand, and it gives a special feel to genuine popular movements.

The Church cannot and must not remain aloof from this process in her proclamation of the Gospel. Many priests and pastoral workers carry out an enormous work of accompanying and promoting the excluded throughout the world, alongside cooperatives, favouring businesses, providing housing, working generously in the fields of health, sports and education. I am convinced that respectful cooperation with the popular movements can revitalize these efforts and strengthen processes of change.

Here I wish to bring up an important issue. Some may rightly say, “When the Pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the Church”. I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM has said it, and I too wish to say it. Like Saint John Paul II, I ask that the Church “kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters”.[6] I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was Saint John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

In conclusion, I would like to repeat: the future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you. Let us together say from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age. Keep up your struggle and, please, take great care of Mother Earth.