Thursday, August 21, 2014

David Marr on George Pell

The presbytery of St Alipius is a redbrick gothic bungalow built when gold money was still washing through Ballarat. It sits in a Catholic compound of brick and granite schools and convents where the road from Melbourne reaches town. White crosses stand on the gables of the house as if to ward off evil from all points of the compass. The plan, if that was indeed the plan, failed spectacularly. When young Father George Pell moved  his things into the presbytery in 1973, that corner of Ballarat was one of the most dangerous places in Australia for children. Already living in the presbytery was Father Gerald Ridsdale, chaplain at the little primary school standing on the other side of the church. He was raping the children. All four members of the staff, all Christian Brothers, were abusing the children in the school. They would not be exposed for twenty years. George Pell, back from his studies in Rome and Oxford, noticed nothing. Full text

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Extraordinary People of Faiith

Trespassing charges against nine religious leaders who protested in the Adelaide Hills electorate office of federal MP Jamie Briggs in June have been dismissed by the Adelaide Magistrates Court. (Full report from ABC)

#LoveMakesAWay is a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action.


To asylum seekers the Australian Government says "NO WAY!" But we are a growing movement of Christians that says #LoveMakesAWay.

Love Makes A Way organises events and actions, including civil disobedience actions, to publicly witness to the injustice of Australia's asylum seeker policies, and to a better way.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

As of April 2014 there are 1138 children in detention in Australia's detention centres. This is in addition to the thousands of adults, desperate people fleeing terrible situations. Professor Pat McGorry, previous Australian of the Year, has said that our detention centres are “factories for producing mental illness.” An Australian and New Zealand study of children who had been detained for more than one year revealed that 100% suffered from some form of mental illness attributable to their detention.

We believe, as followers of the refugee Jesus, that this situation is unacceptable, and that the time has come for us to boldly speak and act.

But to end Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policies we cannot rely on anger, hate or propaganda. Instead we must seek to speak the truth in a spirit of nonviolent love, as Christ taught us. It is only by doing so, and inviting others to join us, that we will see the transformation of people. Such transformation is the only way to build a better society because true justice requires transformed people who can be just.

In all our actions we seek not to demonise the perpetrators of these policies, but rather to invite them to a better way, and to promise to support them in this. We also seek to change public attitudes, particularly within the Church, and wish to encourage and empower people to love both asylum seekers and those who have acted unjustly. We also hope to inspire people to take bold actions that witness to God's love for all people, even civil disobedience actions where necessary.

We know ours is not the only response to Australia’s current asylum seeker policies, and we are thankful for the range of responses people have been making to speak and act for justice. But we also believe that ours is one of many necessary responses in light of the seriousness of our current policies.

In regards to civil disobedience as a method, we are influenced by the actions and teaching of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and most importantly Jesus Christ. We believe King's words summarise well our approach to civil disobedience:

“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored … Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured

Monday, August 11, 2014

St Mary's South Brisbane Prays for Peace

Pope Francis generally posts on Twitter every few days.

Over this past weekend he posted 9 times, each time calling for peace in Iraq, urging us to pray, and for the international community to protect those suffering.

For the next few weeks we will be gathering at our weekly Holy Hour to answer the Pope's call to 'pray for peace'.

WHERE: St Mary's Catholic Church, 20 Merivale St, South Brisbane
WHEN: Wednesdays, 6:30pm - 7:30pm

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Brisbane Launch of Protecting the Lonely Children Report

On behalf of the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, we would like to invite you to the Brisbane launch of the Protecting the Lonely Children report and the opening of the accompanying ‪#‎EndChildDetention‬ installation at St John’s Cathedral.
Venue: St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Ann St Brisbane
Time: 9 to 10am
Date: Monday 18th August, 2014

Murray Watt, Senior Associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
Sonia Caton, Chair of the Refugee Council of Australia
The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
This report offers recommendations to protect and better provide for unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum and refuge in Australia. It follows the release of the draft report in October 2013 which articulated 15 areas of concern. The Taskforce subsequently received formal responses from both the Commonwealth Government and Opposition, and additional information from senior legal advisors, academic, and service providers from across Australia.
It was through the process of compiling this report that the Taskforce became compelled to call the detention and treatment of unaccompanied children “state sanctioned child abuse.”
The report has previously been launched in Melbourne, and we will now be hosting a launch of the report and a discussion on the issues, here in Brisbane.
All are welcome to attend.

The Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival

The Fieri Consort
The Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival is an annual showcase of contemporary church music that gives audiences an exciting opportunity to hear fine performances within the acoustic of St John’s Anglican Cathedral.

In 2014, the Brisbane Contemporary Church Music Festival takes place over two jam-packed Sundays in August.

But what does ‘contemporary church music’ mean?  The phrase can be confusing.

Is it so-called “popular” music?  No.  Are there drum-kits and guitars?  No.

Does it involve the sort of music many churches sing on a Sunday morning?  Unlikely.

The Festival aims to present recent sacred music that remains largely hidden to modern audiences – because of the high standard of performance it requires – and give listeners a way to experience faith and spirituality, set in language appropriate to the age in which we live.

In 2014, the Festival is delighted to welcome the Fieri Consort as special guests.

You can find full details of the 2014 Festival here, as well as Past Programmes and information about the stunning Venue.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Jesus Joins Homeless Persons Week

Homeless Jesus

Today is the last day of Homeless Persons Week 2014

People will continue to be homeless. women and children will flee from domestic violence. Young people will feel abandoned as they deal with a new independence.People will be forced from their homes in Gaza and Mosul. Those with mental health issues and those struggling with addiction and substance abuse will be left on our streets.

We will continue to be challenged to provide a safe haven for vulnerable people in our neighbourhoods as well as those who come to our shores seeking asylum.

Today is Sunday when Christians gather to worship and pray. The image of the Homeless Jesus is a reminder that we are called to see our mentor in faith among those neglected by the political, economic and religious structures of our community.

Homelessness: we can't afford to ignore it

This year, Homeless Persons' Week will look at how ignoring homelessness causes significant costs to individuals, government and society.

Jesus the Forgiving Victim with James Alison

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Jesuit Celebration

The Jesuits are celebrating the 200th anniversary of their restoration. Frank Brennan provides a classic Australian flavour to the  jubilee.

The first Jesuit I ever knew was Brian Stoney who mentored me into solidarity with vulnerable people as we worked in Fitzroy creating a space for men with chronic alcoholic issues.

My days in Melbourne were enriched with a connection with the Jesuit House at Parkville and some study under the wise guidance of Noel Ryan. Friends from those days included the witty Michael McGurr and the urbane Michael Smith.

As I ventured into the mosh pit of Catholic journalism I looked to the experience of Michael Kelly, Andy Hamilton and Richard Leonard. 

The list would not be complete without acknowledging the poetry of Peter Steele who like Gerard Manly Hopkins I admired from the written page.My shelves have been populated with the writings of Christopher Gleeson, Brendan Byrne and John Wilcken.I have sung the music of Christopher Willcock and stayed awake for my Trinity classes with Peter Beer.

And now firmly immersed into the commitment to social change and solidarity with the First peoples of this land I tip my biretta to those great "meddlesome priests" Frank Brennan and Mark Raper

Finally I give thanks to the Jesuits for one of my regular places of pilgrimage at St Canice's Church in Kings Cross. 

Celebrate with these men who have been challenging, inspiring,nurturing and salt of the earth

Australian Jesuit Province Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Monday, August 04, 2014

August Prayer for Refugees

"That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights." Pope Francis' Universal Prayer Intention for August 2014.Will you join Pope Francis in praying for refugees during August?
You may choose to post your prayer to the Social Spirituality site
You may choose to light a prayer candle

Messages of the Holy Father for World Days of Migrants and Refugees 2014 (5 August 2013)

God, no one is stranger to you
And no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,
Those separated from their loved ones,
Those who are lost
And those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,
And help us always to show your kindness to strangers
And those in need.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
Who too was a refugee and migrant
Who travelled to another land
Searching for a home.