Friday, October 10, 2014

Prayers 4 Peace Brisbane 2014

On Thursday, 2nd October the National Council of Women of Queensland Inc, invited local women and children to come along and pray for all people across the world who are suffering from the injustices of war and persecution at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, 373 Ann Street, Brisbane.

“With so much suffering going on around the world we are calling people of all faiths to come together on the first Thursday of October to pray and light a candle for all people, wherever they may be who are suffering from the injustices of war and persecution,” said organiser Annette Lourigan.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng KIm,and the Francis Effect

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim,was installed archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 6, 2014.The Archbishop has Australian connections from his days as a student at the University of New South Wales in the 1980s. 

If there is a "Francis effect" happening in the church then this appointment is a clear sign of things to come. The new Archbishop is 46 years old and has been ordained for 12 years. By way of comparison, Australia's rising star, Anthony Fisher was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Sydney also after 12 year apprenticeship but Julian has beaten him to the Cathedra. No doubt they will be a great double act at the next ceremony of conferring of the Pallium.

As is the custom the new Archbishop has chosen a coat of arms. Usually this is no big deal and the average pew dweller wouldn't identify their shepherd by his choice of heraldry.

Over at one of the "more Catholic than the Pope" blogs a sharp eyed servant of the Temple Police has picked up an interesting innovation in Julian's coat of arms. 

The Rorate Caeli blog notes: He will certainly be a great Archbishop -- well, at least assuredly for non-Catholics. He has just introduced a new symbol in ecclesiastical heraldry, the "Tree of All Religions" or "Coexist Tree". The gatekeepers of orthodoxy will be working overtime on this one. 

I say "well done" to the new Archbishop for  the contemporary touch in his coat of arms. This man is worth listening to so go and have a look at his interview here just after the announcement of his appointment. Note the lack of clerical dress and the relaxed professional approach to his work.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Act Justly, Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly A Model for Building a New Civic Community

Presented at St Mary's in Exile Community

Tony Robertson 4 October  2014

October 4 this year is a sacred day celebrated by the three major Abrahamic Faiths. It is the Jewish Feast of Yom Kippur, a day of fasting, almsgiving and prayer atoning for  failure of the past year.

It is the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice that commemorates Abraham’s submission to Allah.

And we gather as do many Christians to celebrate the life and witness of St Francis of Assisi.

On January 24 2002 leaders of the world’s religions including Christians, Muslims and Jews gathered  to approve the Assisi Decalogue of Peace which we read today. The words of the Decalogue echo the ancient cry of the prophet Micah to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.

In March 2003 the Coalition of the Willing led by nations with a Christian heritage and tradition began the invasion of Iraq. Today our country is again engaging in another  military intervention in Iraq. We continue to read and proclaim the Decalogue of Assisi because the servants of peace will not be silenced by the masters of war.

In 1219, almost 800 years before this document was published Francis of Assisi accompanied by one other brother breached the security of the camp of the Sultan of Egypt, Malik-al-Kamil in Damietta . This was a bold act of civil disobedience against explicit Papal directives that would be a significant moment of conversion.

The encounter between Francis and the Sultan as depicted in the Icon by Robert Lentz has left us with a model for inter-religious dialogue to inspire and encourage us today.

In the Icon Lentz has the two men standing on common ground surrounded by flames. In Islamic and Christian art flames of fire signify holiness. The text at the bottom is from the beginning of the Koran: "Praise to God, Lord of the worlds!" 

The meeting of these two men of diverse faiths and opposing cultures cut across the politics, and religious disputes of their day for Francis and the Sultan became absorbed in each other’s grace and good will. They shared prayer, food and a desire to reflect and understand  each other outside the violent power play of their day.

What really happened we may never know as the polemic and media of both sides claimed the upper hand. What we do know is that both men defied the dominant culture of violence and sought a path of peace for their communities.

They went their separate ways but both were changed forever. Francis abandoned a culture of heroic martyrdom for Christianity and wrote a radical set of norms for relationships with non-Christians into his rule. The Sultan was renowned for his compassion for political prisoners and his respect for Christian and Jewish holy places

Again in this encounter we can see the threads of that ancient call to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.

A little aside re this story. I posted this item and image on my Facebook page today. It was shared by Shane Howard who you will remember from his visit to the community some years ago. Shane wrote: “I still have fond and vivid memories of visiting the mediaeval fortress city of Assisi and the Basilica with Ian Morrison in 1984. It was something of a pilgrimage.

We shot some Super 8 footage there that made its way into the Goanna film clip for 'Common Ground'. St. Francis remains a hero for our times with his  celebration of the divine in nature, his deep empathy to all living creatures and his enlightened approach to people of other faiths, in the Thirteenth Century.”

We continue to tell the remarkable story of Francis and the Sultan because the servants of peace will not be silenced by the masters of war

Our peacemaking begins in our hearts and relationships with those around us. The story of Francis and the Sultan challenges us to expand our circle of relationships to build a new community that will collaborate across our cultural and religious diversity.

We have an opportunity to become part of a new model of such relationships in the Queensland Community Alliance.

The alliance brings faith groups, charities, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to work together  for the common good.

This alliance is based around the personal relations we will build across organisations in our local area. It identifies and trains people to become leaders in community organising, who will decide  priorities for action through a process of listening to stories of pressures that members face and 

The   alliance draws on the community organising tradition of the United States, and is linked with and based upon the model of the Sydney Alliance.

The Queensland Community Alliance offers a program for acting justly in the local community. From the relationships formed across the membership groups commit to action for a more civic and inclusive community.

The Queensland Community Alliance invites partners and participants to take up the challenge to love tenderly. We know the  political culture of tough love, which is radically  different to the relationships  encouraged by the alliance.

Our faith community can bring to the alliance the commitment to love tenderly. That practice is a universal way of love described by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. To love tenderly we are challenged  to be patient, kind; to avoid  envy, not to boast, to avoid pride. A commitment to love tenderly means we do not dishonor others, we arenot self-seeking, not easily angered. We keeps no record of wrongs. Tender love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The Queensland Community Alliance walks humbly with diversity. The opportunity to bring unionists, community workers, Church representatives and people of good will together calls for maturity and humility.

Today I invite you to consider participating in the Queensland Community alliance with Micah Projects, one of the founding partners.

On Wednesday October 29 there will be a Queensland Community Alliance Assembly at St Mark’s in Inala.  The assembly will be an opportunity  share stories that demonstrate the common values that unite us, and make a commitment to each other to work build the Queensland Community Alliance.

So, inspired by history, united in solidarity across our religious diversity I invite you to celebrate the grace that comes when people act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly together.

Tzom Kal, Eid Mubarak, and blessed Feast of St. Francis!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

L’Arche Brisbane celebrates L’Arche International Family Day

On Saturday 4th October L’Arche Communities across the world will join each other in a time of prayer and thanksgiving .
As a Community we are holding a liturgy at St. Francis of Assisi Church 47 Dornoch Terrace West End from 10.30am.  We thought it most appropriate to hold our prayer time here as it is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th October. This will be an ecumenical liturgy and we would like to invite priests, reverends, pastors and members of the church communities, especially those  who welcome our Core Members,  to attend on the day.   
Following our time of prayer we will gather in Orleigh Park near the West End Ferry for a BYO picnic lunch. During this time we might like to share stories and basically enjoy spending time together.
Please free to come and join us for as much of this time as you can manage.
L'Arche is 50 years old! To be able to celebrate our Jubilee year is an amazing gift. When I welcomed Raphael and Philippe from a violent institution, little did I know that L'Arche would grow into the world wide network it is today.  So many people over these years have come to L’Arche and discovered the deep value of people with intellectual disabilities, who if accepted, loved and honored have much to give to our world.  Let us all go forward into the next 50 years with much hope and intentionality, growing but also deepening our vision and letting ourselves be continually transformed by the relationships we share in our communities so that we may become an ever more inspiring presence for our world.
Jean Vanier

Friday, September 26, 2014

Celebrate Earth


The Queensland Churches Environment Network (QCEN) is hosting a Celebrate Earth ritual on Friday 3 October in the grounds of the Cathedral of St Stephen (behind the Chapel) 249 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane.

All are welcome to participate in this short celebration at either 12 p.m. or 1 p.m.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Brisbane Justice Advocate Promotes Bishops Statement

Media Release

Brisbane Justice Advocate Promotes Bishops' Statement

Brisbane Catholic justice advocate, Tony Robertson has given the “thumbs up” to this year’s social justice statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The statement, A Crown for Australia, Striving for the bestin our sporting nation was released for Social Justice Sunday, 28 September 2014

Mr Robertson attended the Brisbane launch of the statement by Archbishop Mark Coleridge at St James Coorparoo on Wednesday September 17 . He took the opportunity to have a promotional photo taken with both of them giving a “thumbs up’ to a document he describes as  “ the best piece of sport commentary to come from a pulpit”.

Mr Robertson said: “As a youngster in Geelong our family ritual was Mass followed by World of Sport, one of the TV shows for which we all had a passion. “

My introduction to sport was on the parish tennis courts of Ss Peter and Paul’s in Geelong West. My Catholic primary and secondary schools had sport teams with the tribal loyalty that the Bishops speak of in this statement” he said.

Mr Robertson applauded the statement’s social inclusion with its references to women, Indigenous and athletes with disability. ‘The connection between community, justice and sport is a relationship we need to affirm more and more in this anxious times” he said.

“Not only is the statement a great document for all Australians, it is accompanied by a video clip which is probably one of the best uses of new technology I have ever seen by the Bishops he said.

Mr Robertson acknowledges that the Catholic Church and its Bishops have been challenged by the dark history of clergy abuse and its cover up. “A generation or even two have been lost to the Church and now it needs to restore faith in the Australian  community if it wishes to become a credible voice in building our civic community; he said.

Mr Robertson said: “I believe this statement has the potential to begin a new conversation with  Australians from a Church that is better attuned to the protection of the vulnerable, the power of sport to build community and the grace of team work.”

“This statement is couched in accessible language and accompanied by iconic sport images that will fire the imagination of readers” he said.

Mr Robertson also thanks the Conference of Bishops for making access to the statement, the video and  support materials available online at

26 September 2014
Tony Robertson
M: 0417 792 509

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Catholic Church Supports Call for Release of Children from Detention

Supporting the release of children from detention. Catholic Mission - Brisbane#freethechildren — with David McGovern at Cathedral of St Stephen, Brisbane.

The grounds of the Cathedral of St Stephen have been home for the last week to the installation Free the Children.Organised by a coalition of organisations which included the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office; Catholic Religious Australia; ChilOut; International Detention Coalition; Australian Young Christian Students; Uniting Justice Australia; the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and PNG; and Catholic Mission, the "Free the Children Installation" was created by award winning sculptor artist Benjamin Gilbert.

I participated in this installation and have sent off a message to my local Federal Member,Terri Butler calling for an end to this inhumane policy.Join me in a chorus across the land that calls out #freethechildren

Media from Church Sources

“The Catholic Church welcomes proposals by the Greens for children to be removed from
Immigration detention centres,” Fr Maurizio Pettena, Director of the Australian Catholic
Migrant and Refugee Office, said today.  Fr Pettena was responding to calls by the Greens,
supported by the Liberals, to release children from detention centres.

“Both in its pastoral activity and in its advocacy, the Catholic Church has always been
advocating for the release of children from the detention centres.” Fr Pettena said.

“The Catholic Church has been active over many years working with asylum seekers, both
inside detention centres and after they are released.  Our workers have seen the trauma
and the damage that is caused by indefinite and, in many cases, arbitrary detention.
There must be a better way,” Fr Pettena said.

“Detention is particularly cruel and particularly inappropriate for children.”

“We note that the Social Justice Commissioner’s report on Indigenous Deaths in Custody
1989‐1996 said in part (recommendation 10) “disruption to the lives of children should be
a strong consideration” and “Mothers of young children should not be detained unless
absolutely necessary.”

“If the Social Justice Commissioner was correct 14 years ago regarding Indigenous women
and children, his comments are also correct today regarding women and children in
immigration detention.”

“The time has long passed, if it ever existed, for the wholesale detention of women and
children in Immigration detention”, Fr Pettena said.

“We call on the Government to release children from detention.”
Link to Official Copy of the Statement

Fr Maurizio Pettena
Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office
T: 0262019848
M: 042766764

The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office opposes locking up children
in immigration detention centres because:

  • The detention environment and length of time spent in detention inflicts 
  • mental and physical harm, anguish and suffering on Children. 
  • The detention environment subjects children to violent and distressing 
  • incidents, including self-harm and witnessing their parents and other 
  • children and adults mentally and physically breakdown. 
  • The prolonged and mandatory nature of detention inherently treats 
  • children as criminals and fails to uphold their human dignity. 
  • The policy of locking vulnerable groups in detention without trial is 
  • fundamentally oppressive and morally corrupt. 
  • Australia has effective alternatives to held immigration detention which 
  • address national concerns and allow asylum seekers to be treated 
  • humanely in the community.
  • Punishing people for seeking protection ignores the gravity of a global 
  • humanitarian crisis and the realities people face when compelled to seek 
  • protection through clandestine channels.