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.
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.
On 29 November 1986 Pope John Paul II addressed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Alice Springs. Because of its historic importance, Catholics around Australia will celebrate the 30th anniversary on Sunday 27 November. The celebration calls for reflection on progress towards justice for indigenous Australians. Moreover, it challenges Catholics to joyfully receive the gifts of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 1986 John Paul II said: You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others. – Pope John Paul II, Alice Springs, 29 November 1986. As well as looking back, the anniversary invites the Church in Australia to look forward. In this way it calls on Catholics to work with renewed commitment for justice and inclusion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. NATSICC Resource To celebrate the anniversary, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council are offering an online resource. It aims at helping the whole community to celebrate the event. Importantly, the resource makes the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people heard. In this way it challenges the general community to reflect on indigenous perspectives on the event, and the significance of its anniversary. In addition, the resource provides activities and highlights ways in which all people can act on contemporary challenges. To access the NATSICC Resource for the 30th anniversary of the Alice Springs address visit this page. Read the Full Text of the Alice Springs Address You can read the official text of John Paul II’s speech at Blatherskite Park, Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory here. Learn About Catholic Social Teaching on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Learn more about what Catholic Social Teaching has to say about the rights of indigenous peoples by visiting this page.
Social Justice Statement 2016 – 2017 The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Social Justice Statement 2016 – 2017 addresses social justice in an ageing society. The statement is titled A Place at the Table. Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen’s opening message explains: At this time in Australia, we face a threefold challenge: to work for an inclusive society that brings older people into the heart of the community; to ensure the dignity and care of people who are frail and most vulnerable to neglect or abuse; and to foster solidarity among all generations, recognising the special affinity that exists between young and old. Statement Highlights This video presents highlights from the statement. Download Social Justice Statement 2016 – 2017 A Place at the Table can be downloaded in word or PDF format here. Supporting Resources The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council provides a range of resources to help parishes, communities and Catholic organisations to engage with the statement. They include: – a summary of the statement, – a letter from Archbishop Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – liturgy notes – a Community Education Resource – a prayer card called A Prayer for All Ages – an action leaflet called Ten Steps to Creating a Place at the Table – and a PowerPoint presentation Resources can be downloaded here.