Sunday, February 04, 2018

Days of Fasting and Reparation in Sorrow for Child Sexual Abuse and for the Healing of Victims

 A Message to the Catholic Community at the Beginning of LentDays of fasting and reparation in sorrow for child sexual abuse and for the healing of victims
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last December, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final report. Like the Australian Government and many other institutions, the Catholic bishops of Australia and leaders of religious institutes are currently studying the final report and its recommendations.
Bishop Brian Finnigan
In the long years since the tragedy of child sexual abuse within the Catholic community became known, the Church has committed to policies, procedures and structures to respond better to survivors of abuse and their families, to establish professional standards for all ministers and Church workers, and to safeguard children and vulnerable people. For the Church, as for other institutions, this has involved gradual learning and development, and so it will continue to be.
Through these years, Australia’s bishops and other Church leaders have often expressed their sorrow and have offered their apology for what has occurred in the past – the harm suffered by victims and survivors, the instances of cover-up, the failure to believe survivors’ stories and to respond with compassion and justice, and the distress that many still experience.
Our apologies have at time seemed too little – not because they were insincere, but because trust has been broken. We stand firm in our resolve to ensure that the abuse of children never happens again in the Catholic Church and to build new bonds of trust.
With the Royal Commission concluded, our country and our Church enter into a new moment. We are calling upon the Catholic community in Australia to embrace this new moment by beginning the penitential season of Lent with four days of fasting and reparation. These are spiritual practices which express our desire for God’s reconciling and healing grace.

"Priests are the backbone": Bishop Anthony Fisher. Photo: Steven Siewert c
Through fasting, we stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of abuse whose much deeper hunger is for healing and peace in their lives. Through reparation, we make amends for the sin of those in the Church who abused children or failed to listen and act when they should have.
The days of fasting and reparation in sorrow for child sexual abuse and for the healing of victims and survivors will be marked by prayer – in our homes and in our Catholic communities.
Please take to heart the importance of these days in preparing the Church to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission and to make the journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter. We cannot undo the past. With God’s help, we can make the future better.

Cardinal Promotes Blessings of Same Sex Couples

You have to love a Church where one of its leading lights carries the name Marx into the aisles of power. Reinhard Cardinal Marx is a power broker of the German Catholic Church. His Wikipedia entry includes a paragraph on his public statements supporting  a new pastoral approach to homosexuals.

And now just over a week out from Valentines Day the Cardinal has splashed across the front pages declaring that in his view  Catholic priests can conduct blessing ceremonies for  same sex couples.

The predictable "chicken little" pews have gone into overdrive. Check the comments here and this op ed here.The Catholic blogsphere has also taken the Cardinal to task on this issue. Vox Cantoris  has its guns blazing so much it even questions the Cardinal's sexuality. Christian Forums is anything but!!

Hey, Catholics are big on blessings. We bless everything from houses to cars, sports equipment to wedding rings, medals, scapulars, water, palm branches, people in the pews the sick, the elderly, school buildings; in fact you name it we bless it. So, why have same sex friendship and relationships been left on the outer? Thanks to Cardinal Marx for stating the obvious. Which Aussie Bishop will be first to endorse this call? 

Back in 2012 Papa Francis made waves with his blessing of Harley Davidson bikes. 
Recent reports from Rome include a Papal  blessing for 1400 Harley Davidson bikes and their riders. The blessing was offered to the company as part of its 110th anniversary of foundation. You can also view  The Pope Gets 2 Harley-Davidson photo gallery.

Is it any wonder the Church has a credibility problem. It's OK to bless bikes but not OK to bless the love and commitment of same sex couples.

Does this mean that Brisbane's famous "Dykes on Bikes" may have  roared into this event with the same confidence they show when they lead off Brisbane's Pride March?

Is the Vatican aware that a simple Google search shows that Gay Bikers could have been part of the crowd when Pope Francis imparted his blessing? Did they have a sexuality check at the front gate?

Thursday, February 01, 2018

World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010 by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN and henceforth the first week of February will be observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week.

I grew up in a culture that was imbued with religion, politics, sport and community. Most of my early cultural landscape was tribal from my identity as Catholics in Australia our politics in Australian Labor Party world view, our membership to the Geelong Football Club Supporters Page and our network of mostly Anglo-Celtic relatives and friends.

The cracks began when my younger brother announced his loyalty to the Essendon Football Club. There had been some intermarriage with people who were not Catholic and the ALP commitment had been tempered by the influence of Bob Santamaria

My childhood home was decorated in the style of traditional Catholic homes with Icons of Christ, Saints and Mary staring down from the walls. The only religion that crossed the threshold of conversation was Catholic with the occasional nod to the "Non Catholics.". The words, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism were not part of our vocabulary and Buddhism was only acknowledged as the exotic background to The King and I

The childhood home has now changed hands and a new era of relationships has taken me into the wonders of religious diversity in thee human story.

I first walked into prayer in a Mosque in Mindanao in the Southern Philippines in 1979. I have joined with Jewish, Hindu, Muslim Baha'i i and other Christians in prayer and common work that has enriched and nurtured my spirit.

May we all be renewed in our common commitment to peace and goodwill during this week of Interfaith harmony.