Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Limerick for Archbishop Hart

One of the quirky observations I made at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne some years ago was  that the official portrait of Archbishop Denis Hart with Pope John Paul II  mounted under a bright 'Exit" sign.

"Exit" seems to be the Archbishops preferred term for gay people working in the Church. His most recent contribution to the public debate about marriage equality is a threat to sack same sex couples who might marry should the legislation be passed by Parliament.

To commemorate this public announcement I have added to my collection of episcopal limericks:




There is an Archbishop called Hart
Who says being gay isn't smart
If you marry one day
He'll block all your pay
That's an act of man with no heart


Back in 2015  the Archbishop featured  in The Age, where he   weighed in about the "gay lifestyle": Catholic Archbishop warned against "tolerating" gay students" . The photo of the Archbishop in this article had him  looking to the left  Hope springs eternal!!

I find the weasal words of "gay lifestyle" used by Archbishop Hart pretty meaningless. My lifestyle includes, catching public transport, going to work, catching up with friends, praying, and a host of mundane activities like hanging out the washing.Much of my lifestyle is pretty similar I imagine to a "non-gay lifestyle"And like Archbishop Hart I love a good dose of pomp and circumstance. Does that suggest the Archbishop may be taking a plunge into the "gay lifestyle"?

As a life member of  St. Joseph's Old Collegians Association​ I applauded  the decision of Paul Tobias and the College community to sign up to the Safe Schools Coalition. As a young gay student  in the late 60s I lived with the frightening silence and isolation that can haunt a young person coming to terms with sexuality. The culture of my local and faith community lacked the language of support that I needed.In recent years I have been welcomed back to SJC to tell my story to a new generation of young men who have a healthy respect for diversity among their peers

Again in 2017 it is worth remembering the  call from Professor Peter Norden for the Catholic Church to develop a positive understanding of sexuality.

The original text for this post was published on the feast of the androgynous St Wilgefortis


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Media Release – Christian Leaders Welcome Civil Marriage Equality Bill

7 August 2017

A group of Christian leaders and academics today welcomed the much-anticipated Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017, opposing any form of plebiscite and instead urging the Parliament to make it law through a free vote in the Australian Parliament. Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Rev Dr Peter Catt said, “As Australians of faith we celebrate that we live in a democratic, multicultural and secular nation.

“We believe that the law should reflect the widely held conviction that LGBTI Australians should be treated equally and be able to marry the person they love.”

Rev Dr Margaret Mayman of Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, said, “I fully support civil
marriage equality because of my faith, not in spite of it. As an ordained minister, I believe in a
God who welcomes every person. I am passionate about this because this is about my LGBTI
friends and their families who are a beloved part of our church community. I call on Australian
politicians to listen to the voices of people of faith, a majority of whom support marriage
equality. We call for a free vote. We remind politicians that this is a civil issue that does not
affect religious beliefs and practices.”

Read full statement with signatures here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bishop Vincent statement on refugee death

Statement from MostRev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

It is with sadness that we have heard of yet another death of a refugee on Manus Island. This death could have been prevented. The Australian Government has been removing support services on Manus Island since the announcement of the closure of the detention centre.
Those in the care of the Australian Government whilst in offshore processing, who have come to Australia for safety and a better life, deserve more.
I urge the Australian Government to provide support services for those who are on Manus Island, awaiting a resolution to their current situation. The Australian Government needs to listen to the concerns of these people and treat them with dignity.
People seeking asylum are currently some of the most vulnerable members of our global community. It is imperative that they are treated humanely and with dignity. These people must be provided with options for settlement in safe countries free from further persecution.
I urge the Australian Government, to be committed to its international obligations, and continue its work within the region and with non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum.
Whilst it is important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. The Australian Government needs to provide adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement options.
I urge the Australian Government, to provide adequate amenities to those on Manus Island, and to endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.

Most Rev Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop Delegate for Migrants and Refugees
Bishop of Parramatta

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2017

The World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year in 2017 is about working together for the common good!

#WBW2017 will call on advocates and activists, decision-makers and celebrants to forge new and purposeful partnerships. Together, let’s attract political support, media attention, participation of young people and widen our pool of celebrants and supporters. 

Only then can we campaign for a generation and commit to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals  by 2030.


As a Catholic I have been surrounded by religious imagery. At its best it inspires and challenges. At its worse it  is tacky and cheap.  Yet apart from galleries and some European Churches you will search in vain for an image of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding.

Perhaps this is the week to invite our local parishes and religious centres to include this image in our public spaces as an acknowledgement of the Incarnation and the role of Mary as Mother of the Lord. 

Are your Churches and places of worship welcoming spaces for women to breastfeed as they pray?  It seems that the Pope is quite open to this practice:

“You mothers, go ahead and breastfeed, without fear. Just like the Virgin Mary nursed Jesus,” he told worshippers attending an annual ceremony commemorating the baptism of Jesus.