World Day of Peace 2018 Message from Pope Francis Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace 2018 focuses on migrants’ and refugees’ search for peace. Hunger or persecution drive some while the possibility of a life in which they can pursue their full human development draws others. All are seeking peace. By contrast, Francis says that those who foment fear of migrants and refugees “are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia.” (n 3) His words certainly ring true here in Australia. Approaching the situation with a contemplative gaze, he sees not a threat, but rather an opportunity to build peace. People on the move remind us that we are one human family sharing a common home. Looking at our world in this manner, we see that migrants and refugees do not arrive “empty handed” (n 3). Rather they bring “their courage, skills, energy and aspirations” and the “treasures of their cultures” thus enriching “the lives of the nations that receive them” (n 3). Again, this is the Australian experience. Welcoming, Protecting & Including Migrants & Refugees Francis advocates a four-fold strategy of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees. We know that these are practical and positive strategies. After all, we have done each of them in different measures at different times in Australia. Our experience suggests one word of caution. In our public policy discourse, the word “integration” carries some strong negative connotations, especially for our First Peoples. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities the policy known as “integration” was little better than “assimilation lite.” They were the ones who were expected to integrate into and become part of another culture. Perhaps a better word for what Pope Francis is talking about would be “inclusion.” Being included is being recognised as part of the community, sharing rather than giving up, the treasures of one’s culture of origin. In this way we all become part of something new. Perhaps even a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1), already here and not yet complete? Global Compacts In 2018 two Global Compacts will be negotiated. One will be about migration and the other will concern refugees. They are important because they will provide the framework for policies and programs. Pope Francis and the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development call all Catholics to get involved in this process. They want the Compacts to be “inspired by compassion, foresight and courage” and to advance peace-building (n 5). Hence they offer Twenty Pastoral Action Points which provide a focus for action. Many of the points directly engage current Australian policies and practices. Time for Action in 2018 Communities of faith, social service agencies and social justice groups in Australia are actively working for change. For some it is a longstanding commitment. They are providing practical assistance to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and advocating for changes in policy. Furthermore they are seeking to change the way the community understands the story of people seeking peace and security. While we may already be active, Pope Francis challenges each one of us to consider how we might be involved in 2018. Read the full text Migrants and refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace
“Why should the Australian Government be frightened if New Zealand chooses to act with compassion?” The Catholic Diocese of Auckland Justice and Peace Commission ask the Australian Government to let New Zealand resettle asylum seekers on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Labelling the living conditions of the detainees a “violation of basic human dignity”, the Commission appeal for solidarity and compassion. In doing so they point to Pope Francis’ encouragement not to be afraid of refugees. Furthermore they affirm that Catholic teaching urges us to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable. They urge the Australian government to accept New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s 1 November offer to take into New Zealand 150 refugees from the Manus Island detention camp. Auckland Justice & Peace Commission Statement Read their media release here: [gview file=”https://social-spirituality.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/manus-island-akl-catholic-jp-news-release-15nov17.pdf”]. Learn more about Catholic Social Teaching and seeking asylum Basic teachings Inspirational quotes What the Australian Catholic Bishops say
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: [gview file=”https://social-spirituality.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FCBCO-Satement-Bishops-Urge-Care-for-Sea.pdf”]
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.