The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Migrant and Refugee Office have put Australia’s Senators on notice that they have a moral choice to make. Legislation coming before the upper house of the national parliament places the human dignity of asylum seekers at risk: “The Asylum Legacy Caseload Bill undermines Australian values stating ‘the laws of natural justice do not apply’. Consequently, Senators are faced with a moral decision,” Fr Maurizio Pettenà, Director of the Office said. The Bill is criticized as undermining the Convention on the Status of Refugees and eroding legal protections for asylum seekers in Australia. It proposes to water down the Convention’s definition of a refugee, reintroduce Temporary Protection Visas which increase uncertainty concerning permanent protection and family reunification,and force people seeking protection to navigate a complex legal process without appropriate support and advice. Meanwhile, Bishop Peter Comensoli, Bishop-Elect of Broken Bay (formerly Auxiliary Bishop and Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Sydney), has joined a group of prominent Australians in a protest song against the detention of asylum seeker children. The full list of participants is here.
Catholic Social Services Australia invited me to reflect on recent developments in civil society from the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching. Here’s what I said to their Leadership Forum in Canberra on 21 October 2014. The Evolving Model of Civil Society – A Perspective from Catholic Social Teaching Catholic Social Teaching has a lot to say about recent developments in the relationship between civil society and the state. I will comment on three matters: the notion of entitlement; what Catholic Social Teaching has to say about the role of civil society and of the state; and Benedict XVI’s thinking on the logic of gift in the market.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Social Justice Statement 2014-2015 is titled A Crown for Australia. It explores the potential of sport to promote personal development, social inclusion and a more just society. It also addresses social issues connected with sport such as the will to win at any cost, the use of drugs in sport, gambling and the commodification of sport. The Social Justice Statement can be downloaded from the website of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council along with associated resources.
The Soul Work of Dismantling Structures of Sin & Creating Structures of Grace How can we make known the love of God in our world? The anger and fear in our society can’t be vanquished by more anger, not even by righteous rage. Our work for change needs to attend to structures of grace as much as structures of sin. There is a world of difference between being driven by anger or fear, and being called by love. A Personal Journey I first encountered the concept of structures of sin in the 1980s. It helped me to make sense of things. Into the 1990s I was concerned to identify and call out structures of sin, to try to extract myself from them, and to work actively towards dismantling them. Anger at injustice was at the heart of much of this action. By the mid 1990s I was convinced of the importance of proposing positive alternatives – we need structures of grace to replace those of sin. Then I began to understand that cooperating in creating structures of grace calls for different skills, attitudes, dispositions and capabilities than denouncing and pulling down structures of sin. It led me to quite different inner work, and different outer work too. Only love can build up structures of grace that give expression to the justice of God’s Reign.
Catholic Social Teaching in Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teaching principles may take root in and be expressed through every culture. Each particular experience can enhance humanity’s understanding both of reality, and of God’s call through it. By examining the local and particular, universal Catholic Social Teaching principles may be recognized and understood more deeply. Local Bishops share with the Popes in the task of teaching on issues of social justice. The international and local teachings inform one another. This website holds up the experiences of the people of the Asia Pacific region by making Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teaching more widely known. Find Asia Pacific Catholic Social Teachings