Catholic Mission Australia together with Catholic Religious Australia have published a series of reflections on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. The Francis Effect: Living the Joy of the Gospel can be viewed online as an ebook or you can order a hard copy from Catholic Mission. Look out for Sandie Cornish’s reflection on the social dimension of evangelization.
A statement from the Commission for Social Concerns of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops Conference says “… that while Papua New Guineans are not lacking in compassion for those in need, this country (unlike Australia which is a stable and thriving nation of immigrants) does not have the capacity at this time in its history to welcome a sizeable influx of refugees and provide for their immediate needs and a reasonable hope for a new and prosperous beginning. The leaders of Papua New Guinea and Australia surely know this and therefore appear to be making a very unwise decision. Papua New Guinea is rightly proud of the protection guaranteed by its Constitution to all people, citizen and non-citizen alike. We refer particularly to the section on freedom and liberty of the person (section 42) in the PNG Constitution. So is it right to bring people across our borders against their wishes? Is it right to imprison people who have not broken our laws? The implication that resettlement in PNG would be a deterrent is offensive to Papua New Guinea.”
“The new resettlement arrangements with Papua New Guinea are based on the premise that it is wrong for people fleeing from persecution to seek asylum in Australia” said Bishop Hanna “this is fundamentally untrue.” Read the statement from the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office here.
Here’s my June reflection for CatholicCare Sydney. CatholicCare’s Person-Centred Approach is about keeping a focus on the dignity of the person at the heart of things. It sounds very straight-forward and obvious, but in fact it calls us to act in ways that are deeply counter-cultural. It calls us to act to change the culture of our society as well as inviting careful attention to the quality of our interaction with the people who access our programs. We need to witness to the dignity of each and every person through our own behavior and through the behavior that we accept, if only by failing to challenge it. In a society where many seem to think it is acceptable to demean and insult the person and the office of the Prime Minister using violence filled language and sexually explicit abuse, the poorest and most marginalized women and men are rendered all the more vulnerable. The coarsening of our political discourse and the deep disregard for the humanity of those with whom we disagree demeans us all. When played out in public by leaders and opinion makers it gives license to others to say and do things that would at other times have been considered socially unacceptable. But what is socially acceptable? We set the standards of our society by what we let pass. For me, one indicator that the deep undertow of racism in Australian society is getting close to the surface, is when I start witnessing or being subjected to racist rants on the public transport. I had to make an intervention on a train last week. What was different on this occasion was the sexual nature of the extreme violence threatened against the woman of Asian descent. And not one man on that Sydney train said or did anything. A person-centred approach means that CatholicCare people and programs won’t let such things pass. Our duty of solidarity is not about whether we are Asian or Anglo, women or men, Labour voters or Liberal voters, but our shared humanity. The dignity, well-being and participation of all persons is important to us. We try to see situations through the eyes of those who suffer. We work at transforming attitudes. We work at building people’s capacity to make life-giving choices and to achieve their potential. We seek to be for each one Christ’s liberating presence in the world.
Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, has issued a Pastoral Letter calling for social security allowances in Australia to be increased. Allowances for unemployed people and single parents are well below the poverty line. Bishop Saunders argues that adequate income support is a human right and a demand of the right to life. It is the duty of governments to foster the common good by providing income support. Read the Pastoral Statement here.
I’m pleased to be joining up with the Wollongong Diocese Justice, Ecology and Peace Council to present a workshop on Catholic Social Teaching. We will be following an Ignatian methodology (just like Pope Francis), exploring local issues and nurturing a spirituality of justice.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office has again voiced its concern about the treatment of asylum seekers. Their statement comes in the wake of comments by a Federal Opposition spokesperson.