Monday, August 19, 2019

Into The Deep Seeking Justice for the People of West Papua

I may not judge a book by its cover, but I certainly take notice of the cover. Into the Deep Seeking justice for the people of West Papuafeatures an image of a lone man walking a rough road in the highlands of West Papua. It is a telling image of the wonderful way in which the author, Peter Arndt weaves storytelling, history and theology into a compelling narrative.

This small booklet is part of the Catholic Social Justice series which began in. 1987 and continues to provide research, education and advocacy about the Church’s social justice teaching and their application within the Catholic Church in Australia.

This paper draws our attention to West Papua and in the words of Bishop Vincent Long who wrote the forward, Peter “honours us by sharing his experience over a number of years. He shows us how he has come to understand their indomitable desire for self determination and to recognize how the Gospel calls him to walk beside his friends on their journey”.

This booklet is a call to action grounded in   the spirituality of the Gospel and nourished by solid political and historical documentation. Peter Arndt provides us with a fresh and challenging approach to the classic catholic social teaching of solidarity. By sharing his personal journey with the people of West Papua Peter takes us as the title suggests into a deep appreciation of solidarity in suffering, struggle and determination.

Into the Deep is a personal diary as much as an educational tool. It will be useful for groups and individuals looking for an introduction to a regional issue that calls for our attention. The notes referenced in the paper provide further reading and valuable resources. The names of West Papuans whose testimonies and stories are shared can also be found in videos and reports online. This electronic material supports Peter’s commitment to the journey of self determination for the Indigenous people of West Papua.

Schools will find this booklet a useful reference for senior study of religion, history and social study. Again, most of the references provided by Peter are accessible online for those wanting to research original sources.  The booklet lends itself to a series of lesson plans which could include valuable learning outcomes in narrative, history, religion and politics.

So, back to the cover where the lone figure walking that rough road in the West Papua highlands  invites us to a deep understanding of the history, the politics and the struggle for self determination in West Papua. I recommend this booklet as a pilgrim text to be read and then responded to with  the words and deeds of Jesus that nourishes our faith.

Into the Deep Seeking Justice for the people of West Papua   by Peter Arndt is available in print and electronic versions.

Follow this book on goodreads

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Which Bishops called for ecological conversion, advocate against single-use plastics?

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a pastoral letter to call for the faithful to work in line with the advocacy for ecology.
Titled “An urgent call for ecological conversion, hope in the face of climate emergency,” the CBCP letter issued in mid-July listed a number of concrete actions to be undertaken in line with the spirit and principles of the landmark encyclical on ecology by Pope Francis entitled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.”
One of the actions advocated by the letter signed by CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao is the elimination of single-use plastic – considered one of the worst pollutants.
Eco Waste Coalition lauded the move of the bishops to collectively engage the parishes in the campaign for the environment.
“We welcome the unequivocal statement issued by our bishops toward the elimination of single-use plastics. This should persuade the faithful into shifting to eco-friendly products and packaging materials that are reusable and recyclable,” stated Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner for EcoWaste Coalition, in a release sent to Good News Pilipinas.
“We hope all dioceses, parishes and Catholic-run institutions such as schools, hospitals, convents, seminaries and churches will institute or strengthen policies and regulations that will eliminate the consumption, use and disposal of single-use plastics, including plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, plastic plates and cutlery, and even plastic banderitas in their premises and activities,” Benosa said.
“We likewise hope the private sector, especially the big corporations, will heed the signs of the times and do their part to address the global plastic pollution crisis by seriously cutting packaging and plastic waste,” he added.
Eco Waste particularly noted the initiatives of Cavite Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Imus, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, and Bishop Alberto Uy of Balanga for their recent pronouncements and actions to curb the use of single-use plastics in their respective dioceses.
CBCP News has reported that Bishop Santos and the clergy have adopted Balanga City’s directive restricting single-use plastics. “In our cathedral, we go green. We discourage the use of plastic flowers and decors, but natural plants and flowers. We also set aside tarpaulins,” he said.
Bishop Uy told priests and parishioners over Radio Veritas to “please avoid the use of Styros and plastics in any of our gatherings and activities.” He said “it is important for us to unite in taking care of our environment,” stressing “if every citizen will do his share in helping preserve the environment, we will all live in a clean and safe community that is pollution-free and plastic-free.”
Bishop Evangelista has announced the move by the Diocese of Imus to transform itself into a “zero waste church.” Included in the 10-point policies to be carried out in all parishes and institutions are the ban on plastic banderitas for church occasions and feasts, and the ban on disposable, single-use plates, glasses, spoons, forks and the like in church activities and fellowships.
The said “zero waste church” initiative has attracted jubilation and support from both the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition, which counts on the Diocese of Imus Ministry of Ecology among its members.
SEND cheers of support in the comments below for the CBCP bishops and Catholic faithful, joining the eco-advocacy campaign!
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My Cheer of Suport
Tony Robertson
Here's a cheer of support from Australia. I cherish my memories of time in the Philippines in 1979-80. Thanks so much for this practical and deeply spiritual decision. My hope is that Catholics across the globe will take up the call to care for our common home and all who inhabit the lands and seas. May our witnes inspire allpeople of good will to join us as stewards of creation.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019

Earth Overshoot Day 2019
Today is Earth Overshoot Day, when humanity’s demands for ecological resources (including fish, forests, fresh water, etc) exceed what the Earth can renew in a year.

Over seven Anglican Cathedrals and many other churches across Australia have marked this day by tolling their bells for the 12 minutes until midday and holding a short liturgy to pray that collectively we can recognise our broken relationship with God's creation, and restore and renew all life on the Earth. 
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

17th Century English poet and Anglican Dean, John Donne.
[pics: St Johns Cathedral (Brisbane), Highfields (Toowoomba) and Good Shepard (Bundaberg) other Churches listed here] 
What can I do to help on Earth Overshoot Day?
  • Pray for people to see the ecological crises in our midst and for “ecological conversion”. 
  • Tell others in your church and online communities about this day, share theFacebook page, 
  • Act as people of faith by making a commitment to Live the Change:
Liturgical and social media resources:
Please let us know if joined us:
The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt spoke with ABC Radio’s Rachel Mealey this morning about Earth Overshoot Day
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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Images That Open Your Eyes

In the autobiographical fragments of Mary Ward’s retreat writing, it is delightful to find out how she addresses God. Hers is in an all-inclusive way and it speaks to her image of God. 
O parent of parents and friend of all friends, thy intent inthus disposing was different from those: for here – without entreaty thou tookest me into thy care, and by degrees led me from all else that at length I might see, and settle my love on thee…[1]
Inspired by Mary, I am drawn to sayJesus’words to the disciples out aloud; this time with her wonderful way of addressing God at the beginning.  Praying with these archetypal images of Divine friend and parent before me seems simple but also helpful in a way as it adds a freshness to the Gospel passage. It draws me closer to my God of love, wisdom and protection.

Friday, July 26, 2019

A Catholic Priest Writes to the Prime Minister

Fr Malcolm P. Fyfe msc writes on the 6th Anniversary to the Prime Minister

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Prayer of St Francis.’ An open letter to our political leaders by Fr Malcolm P. Fyfe msc, Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Darwin.
The Honourable Mr Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia.
Dear Prime Minister,
Today is the sixth anniversary of PM Kevin Rudd’s announcement that no person seeking asylum by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.
Every single person arriving after that date was to be subjected to indefinite detention on Manus Island, PNG, or in the Republic of Nauru, under ‘processing’ arrangements between the Australian Government and those Pacific states.
Six years on, roughly 800 refugees and people seeking asylum remain trapped on Manus Island and Nauru.
I am writing to every Member of the Australian Parliament from the Diocese of Darwin, on behalf of many, many well-informed and thoughtful Australians who are deeply concerned, indeed appalled, by that component of Australia’s current Border Protection Policy.
The offshore processing regime is claimed to be essential as a deterrent to ensure there are no more asylum seeker or refugee arrivals by boat.
Regardless of that claim’s validity, this is actually a classic and clear case of legislation that is immoral in the most basic of ways: an evil act is engaged in for the purpose of achieving some good outcome.   
How far can one go inflicting suffering on one group of people to prevent unrelated others from acting in a certain way?
Why stop at indefinite detention, which is already just a slightly civilized form of torture? Indeed, in my opinion, it has similarities with the use of “human shields” in warfare.
But back to 2013. The fact that the “stop the boats” slogan featured strongly during the 2013 federal election campaign should not at this point in time prevent changes being made to  Australia’s Border Protection Policy to achieve a more humane treatment of people who have committed no crime.
Earlier legislation should not be so set in concrete as to justify a stubbornly   maintained policy of keeping hundreds of fellow human beings locked away in our Offshore Detention Centres, with scant hope of reprieve in sight.
With relentless regularity, Government Ministers have blatantly repudiated and debunked the raft of concerns raised by United Nations personnel, the Human Rights Commission, Church Leaders, Medical and Legal Experts, Children’s Welfare Organisations and other highly principled members of the public. Our elected leaders simply take cover behind a Jericho Wall of total secrecy regarding Operation Sovereign Borders, the treatment of persons intercepted at sea and those in immigration detention centres generally.
Tragically, as might have been expected, the incidence of self-harm in detention centres has risen to epidemic levels.
The crippling cost of maintaining the current detention arrangements is also a very real concern, putting huge pressure on the budget. Is this unnecessary outlay to go on and on unchecked?
Here is the first and preferred proposal I would like to make:
Operation Sovereign Borders involved from the start a two-pronged strategy, characterized by (1) a deterrence policy (“Don’t attempt to come here by boat or you will face the unbearable treatment we are meting out to our detainees”) and (2) by the diligent efficiency of our Australian Defence Forcesmonitoring and controlling the seas surrounding us.
Has not our experience over recent years shown that the Australian Defence Forces are quite capable by their own resources, of achieving the goal of “stopping the boats” to the point that we no longer need the deterrent factor associated with our costly and inhumane detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island? 
We should henceforth guard our shores by military skill and effective intelligence and discreetly dismantle our offshore detention centres, re-assuming responsibility ourselves for on-shore processing as swiftly as possible. 
As regards the detainees still on Nauru and Manus Island, why not consider the feasibility of a carefully planned, once and for all AMNESTY, with cross-party support, for as many of them as possible?
What an innovative and laudatory move that would be!  Our international standing would be greatly enhanced by such an act.
If the above is rejected out of hand and an objective appraisal of it simply vetoed, then I would make the following (fall-back) proposal:
It was back in August 2012 that the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers delivered its Report. I believe it is time for another “Expert Panel” to be set up on cross-party lines to review the situation and to indicate what changes can now be made to the conclusions and outcomes of the earlier Report.
Australia is capable of something a lot savvier and more generous than our current harsh and mean treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The majority of people I encounter are most uncomfortable with this ongoing reprehensible phenomenon and there is a growing sense that, as Australians, we are better than this.
As an elected representative with good moral principles, can you stand aloof and make no effort to achieve a more positive and humane future for these already damaged and hapless human beings?
Instead of subjecting them to even harsher Medevac arrangements, let’s bring them out of their current confinement into the realm of freedom and opportunity that we Australians inhabit and so put an end to this ugly and unnecessary 6 year episode.
With appreciation for the many good things our elected Members are doing,
(Father) Malcolm P. Fyfe msc
Vicar General,
Catholic Diocese of Darwin
“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Prayer of St Francis.`
Feature photo courtesy of: Benita de Vincentiis, the Diocesan Youth Worker.

Source: Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Earth Overshoot Day Liturgy Brisbane

Join us this year to mark Earth Overshoot Day

Monday 29th July 2019 11.45am-12.15pm
St John'a Anglican Cathedral,Ann Street Brisbane

Safeguarding the integrity of the Creation requires us to walk lightly on the earth in more ways than simply reducing our carbon footprint. Our need to do this is highlighted by the marking of what is known as Overshoot Day.

Overshoot Day is the day when humanity's demands for ecological resources (fish, forests, fresh water etc), exceeds what the Earth can renew in a year.

It is driven by our attitudes and disconnect towards the Earth, our common home. We are collectively over consuming and overexploiting our resources.

Last October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have just 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate. In May, another United Nations report suggested we are heading towards the extinction of one million species.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are the tragic warning signs of our broken relationship with God's Creation, of our loss of understanding our interrelationship with all living things.

And Australians are some of the biggest contributors. If everyone behaved like us, humanity would consume the equivalent of 5.2 earths a year.
As Christians, we want to mark this event, to raise it in the public consciousness and create a call for transformation. Ultimately, as both Pope Francis and Rowan Williams have said, we need an 'ecological conversion.'

To mark Overshoot Day, one of the Cathedral’s bells will toll from 11.48am, for 12 minutes until midday, Monday 29 July. At Noon we will hold a short service.

Other actions you might like to consider:
Pray - for people to see the ecological crises in our midst and for 'ecological conversion'.
Tell - others in the community why Overshoot Day is important.
Act - as Christians we need to examine and commit to how we Live the Change that we proclaim in the world.

Will you declare what you want to see (and possibly help make) happen in order to #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day to December 31 or later before 2050? It’s as easy as posting your 15-second video selfie on your favorite social media! See details here.

Christina the Astonishing, Virgin Patron of Holy Irritants

Christian the Astonishing, VirginIn recent years I have  adopted a patron and spiritual mentor whose feastday falls on July 24. In keeping with my heightened sense of the "feminine", my newly adopted patron is a woman saint. Christina the Astonishing, Virgin (1150 - 1224) (when read aloud the word "comma" should be pronounced as she was not just an astonishing virgin, but astonishing in other ways!!)

Christina's bio reads like the script from a Dan Brown and Steven Spielberg collaboration. This is definitely a PG rated text. It is best read, seated with all lights on and the children safely in bed.

This image depicts the first recording of Christina's public appearances when she was believed to have died, but managed to soar from her coffin during her funeral Mass. Not surprisingly, such behaviour saw a quick exodus from the Church with only the dutiful priest and her distressed sister left to witness this amazing resurrection. And yes, there was more: while presumed to be dead, she had in fact been "on tour" to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. Upon this return visit she decide to dedicate her life to a sort of public pyschodrama performance where she acted out the downside of the nasty behaviour she saw around her.

For the next forty years Christina managed to cause alarm and anxiety in her local community by performing Olympian spiritual exercises which included extreme prayer balanced on poles. She had no dress sense, ignored any protocols about workplace health and safety and refused to be tamed by doctors priests or any other  men of the town.

Yet, the records of the time also note that her advice was sought by both civic and religious leaders of her day.She was even summoned to the death bed of a local Count to hear his confession.

Like other popular residents of the celestial realm Christina had been provided with w series of patronages to keep her busy. It may not surprise readers that the list includes:

Christina has her own entry in Wikipedia and appears prominently in a Google search. She has been the subject of art, study and even song:

So, I invite you to join me on her feast day as we celebrate Christina, a parable of the reign of God. The eccentric grace that drove her to extremes is the spirit in which I now invoke her as patron of "Holy Irritants".

In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. On Liberty John Stuart Mill

Monday, July 01, 2019

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Brisbane

Date: Sunday 7th July 12.00pm

Cathedral of St Stephen, 249 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, QLD

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week is being celebrated this year from July 7 to 14.
It is a welcome celebration of the significant culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over a timeframe that stretches beyond imagining.
The Archdiocese will come together as one to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in liturgy, through this celebration of a NAIDOC Mass.
All people are welcome and encouraged to attend.

 Luke 10:1-12. Queenie McKenzie