As politicians swing into election mode the Catholic Bishops of Australia are encouraging people not to vote according to self-interest but with a view to the common good. In their pastoral letter they draw attention to a range of issues such as respect for life, marriage and the family, child protection, poverty, health and education. The needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, refugees and asylum seekers are highlighted. Watch the video here:
In a Message for Australia Day (26 January 2012) the Commission for Justice, Ecology and Development of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has called for more compassionate treatment of asylum seekers. Four of the Bishops who signed this statement minister directly to asylum seekers in immigration detention centres located in their dioceses. They say there must be a limit to how long asylum seekers can be held in immigration detention. Read the full Bishops’ Australia Day call for time limit on detention.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has updated its social networking protocol. It encourages the use of new media for evangelisation and insists on the importance of upholding human dignity in the virtual world. Read the protocol here.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) has welcomed changes which will allow asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat to live in the community rather than immigration detention centres while their claims are assessed. ACMRO is an office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Read their media release.
Season of Creation Begins with World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation In 2015 Pope Francis asked Catholics to join with the Orthodox Church to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. A number of other Christian churches had already joined them in it for a number of years. Now the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is an annual event in the Catholic Church too. In fact Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined together to make this statement for 2017. As Pope Francis explains, it is a “significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.” Read his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation here. Celebrated on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation now marks the beginning of the Season of Creation. A Catholic Season of Creation The idea of celebrating a Season of Creation began in the Lutheran Church in Adelaide, Australia in 2000. Now many different churches all over the world take part. In 2016 the Catholic Church joined in. The season embraces the four Sundays of September before the Feast of St Francis of Assisi – 4 October. Norman Habel explains: “The season of Creation offers an opportunity for churches to introduce new visual elements into their worship and to be ecumenical and connected with creation in a particular context.” Read more about the history of the Season of Creation here. 2017 Catholic Resources Year A The Columban Mission Institute’s Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice provides excellent resources for the Season of Creation for Catholic congregations and schools. They include prayer, reflection and action ideas and are linked to the readings in the Catholic lectionary. Download their resources here. 2016 Catholic Resources Year C Download Catholic resources for the Season of Creation 2016 here. More on Catholic Teaching Find out more about Catholic teaching on integral ecology here. Learn about Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of our common home here. Watch Pope Francis’ Video Pope Francis invites us to pray for the care of creation on 1 September and to take action during the Season of Creation. What action will you take between 1 September and 4 October?
Pacific Bishops meeting in Auckland in August 2017 declared: “As Bishops of the Pacific, the place of the sea in the lives of the peoples we serve was a central focus of our meeting. Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many of our peoples the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood. In solidarity with them, Psalm 107 resonates in our hearts: ‘those that do business in the great waters, they behold the world of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.’” Gathering as the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, they highlighted care of the sea and concern for West Papua. The Federation brings together Catholic Bishops Conferences from island nations across the Pacific Ocean. Bishops conferences from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand and CEPAC (the rest of the Pacific) are members. Care for Pacific Ecology Visiting communities affected by climate change, the Bishops observed the destruction of shorelines. On the other hand, they praised “the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats”. Furthermore, the Bishops held up the ‘blue economy’ as a model that respects sustainability and looks beyond short-term economic windfalls. Concern for West Papua The Bishops also focussed on the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua. They did not, however, express a view on independence. Instead they called for quality education, access to jobs and training, and respect for land titles. Furthermore, they ask for “clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce.” Nonetheless, they saw hope in efforts for dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Read the Pacific Bishops Statement Here is the full statement of the Pacific Bishops:
A Message from 1971 1971 was the year of the Synod of Bishops’ statement Justice in the World – and the year of the musical Godspell. Based on the gospel of Matthew, its opening song reflects this year’s gospel reading for the second Sunday of Advent. Colleen Hewitt sang in the Australian production of Godspell. Here is footage from 1971 of her singing a medley of Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord / Day by Day Justice in the World was the first Catholic Social Teaching document to acknowledge that the Church must witness to justice in its own life in order to be credible when calling for justice in the world. Forty five years later, justice within the Church remains a task and a challenge. During the second week of Advent, we can reflect on how we are contributing to making the life of the Church more just. We can also prepare the way of the Lord by being more credible witnesses to the Gospel in our own lives. Peace on Earth Traditionally, we focus on peace in the second week of Advent. So we might take up the particular challenge of becoming better witnesses to Gospel nonviolence.