Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, Fr Maurizio Pettena calls for immediate action on the allegations made in the leaked Nauru files. The Nauru files detail numerous alleged incidents of physical and sexual abuse of detainees at Australia’s offshore immigration detention centre. Fr Pettena expressed “grave concern that more than half of the allegations involve children, even though they make up %18 of those in detention.” He also expressed concern about “the manner in which these allegations have been handled, in particular the downgrading of severity in allegations.” Fr Pettena called on the Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton to take immediate action. He declared that “there has been a consistent decline in the mental and physical condition of refugees on Nauru.” Hence he demanded that “concrete action must be taken to improve conditions.” Meanwhile, community movements are calling for the asylum seekers to be brought to Australia. Speaking on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops, Fr Pettena made their position clear. He explains that it is not only the allegations made in the Nauru files that are of concern, but the whole policy regime. “The Catholic Church opposes mandatory detention and offshore detention because these policy responses do not respect the dignity of people seeking our help. It is imperative that the dignity of the human person must always come first. Governments have a responsibility to manage migration flows, but the Australian Government’s current approach is harsh and should change.” Read the Full Statement Read the full statement here.
Environmental Concern or Integral Ecology? The Catholic Social Teaching theme of integral ecology is becoming more urgent and important. Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, on care for our common home, stresses that everything is connected. This means that our approach to ecology must be holistic. Ecology goes beyond care for the natural environment. It embraces the vast network of relationships between all that is. Integral ecology requires “an integrated approach to combatting poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (LS n 139) “…genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, n 70) Causes & Responsibility Of course we must all take personal responsibility for our impact on the rest of creation. But the deeper causes of environmental problems usually lie beyond personal behaviour. These causes are connected to models of development, production and consumption. The poorest people and most disadvantaged communities often suffer the most from the consequences of environmental problems. They may have fewer choices to avoid contributing to environmental problems. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of ecological problems. As the Australian Bishops say: “Policies which deal equitably and effectively with how we develop our natural resources for economic and social development, while working to address land salination, the degradation of rivers, fair distribution of water, global warming and prudent management of fragile ecosystems are part of caring for God’s created world, including humanity. Australia’s future prosperity is closely linked with how well we care for our ecosystems and how effectively we transition to sustainable practices.” (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Vote for the Common Good: Election Statement 2013) Human Creatures “We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, the way it grasps reality.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, n 139) Human beings are part of creation, not outside of it. The work of nurturing the human ecology of our communities is deeply linked with our thinking about development, and our relationship with the rest of creation. Social inclusion and economic sustainability are interrelated. Integral ecology calls us to understand our place as part of God’s creation and our responsibility for this planet, which is our common home. Find out More Visit this page for an introduction to Laudato Si’ a link to the full text of the encyclical, and to further resources.
What is Integral Human Development? Economic development alone is not enough to create a just society. People and communities have material needs, but human flourishing and wellbeing have spiritual, social, cultural and political dimensions too. Catholic Social Teaching takes a holistic or integral approach to development. It places people, rather than the economy, at the centre of development. Development is for people. We are made by God out of love and called to develop our God-given gifts, to grow as persons, and to seek our fulfilment. That is why we describe our thinking about development as integral and human. “Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person.” (Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, n 14) Personal & Communal Development is communal as well as personal. Our personal development takes place within the context of the development of our communities. We help each other to grow and develop for the good of us all. A just society is inclusive. Catholic Social Teaching promotes integral human development for every person, every community, and all peoples. “Knowing that we, as persons and communities, are part of God’s family gives us a vision and energy to serve a truly integral human development.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, n 78) Social & Economic Inclusion Catholic organisations and social justice movements work for social as well as economic inclusion. They consider the links between the social and emotional wellbeing of communities, families and individuals and their economic wellbeing. This embodies in action Catholic Social Teaching’s integral or holistic understanding of human development. Our action must be multi-dimensional rather than focusing on material poverty alone. “Poverty is more than a simple lack of money. It is multi-dimensional: it concerns access to health, education, social services, human rights, freedom, life opportunities and the ultimate goal of the development enterprise – happiness. The reality is that the most disadvantaged in the world suffer deprivation in many different ways.” (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Lazarus at Our Gate: Social Justice Statement 2013-2014)
Context Caritas in Veritate was Pope Benedict XVI’s only encyclical to focus exclusively on social justice matters. Published in 2009, it is the first post Cold War social encyclical. Caritas in Veritate is an anniversary encyclical commemorating Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical on development Populorum Progressio. Benedict XVI delayed publishing Caritas in Veritate so that he could address the Global Financial Crisis that was emerging as he drafted it. Pope John Paul II issued Sollicitudo rei Socialis to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Populorum Progressio. This indicates how important Populorum Progressio is in the Catholic Social Teaching tradition. Its major contribution was the concept of integral human development. Major Issues Benedict introduces the ideas of gratuity and gift within the economy. He explores the relationship of rights and duties within development, including our duties towards the environment. Benedict explains the need for the cooperation of the human family, and explores the impact and potential of technology. He calls for the exercise of several layers and levels of subsidiary for the effective governance of globalisation. Methodology Benedict XVI begins by examining the relationship between truth and charity. Next he recalls the message of Populorum Progressio, noting its continuing relevance as well as areas of change. Then he looks at the challenges of human development in our time, and explores the moral dimension of the economy and the call to more fraternal relations within it. He concludes with a call to Christian action. Contribution to Catholic Social Teaching Benedict XVI presents a powerful synthesis of existing teaching on development. He also introduces a new idea – the logic of gift or gratuity within the economy. He says that space must be made for motivations other than profit within markets themselves rather than added post factum to adjust market outcomes. Rather than simply promoting the expansion of the ‘third sector’ he argues that every aspect of the economy at every stage must become ethical. In this encyclical the best part of a chapter is devoted to the environment. Integral human development must also be sustainable development. Right relationships with the rest of creation are part of the framework within which integral human development can be achieved. Our relationship with the rest of creation is no longer a side issue in Catholic Social Teaching but is central to the framing of the key questions. Read the Full Text of Caritas in Veritate Access the full text of the encyclical here Resources on Caritas in Veritate Explore the encyclical with this discussion guide by Sandie Cornish. Globalisation & the Church This collection of reflections on the encyclical is edited by Neil Ormerod and Paul Islington. It gathers the presentations on Caritas in Veritate from a conference held at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney in 2010. The chapter by Sandie Cornish provides a simple introduction to the encyclical for the general reader. Order here.
Will You Pray With Pope Francis? Each month the Pope announces two prayer intentions. One is universal, or general, while the other concerns evangelization more specifically. Pope Francis invites us to join him in praying for these intentions. Here are Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for July 2016. Universal: Respect for Indigenous Peoples That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect. Evangelisation: Latin America & the Caribbean That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. Indigenous Peoples of Australia Do you know who the indigenous people of your place are? Can you find out about them and pray for and with them this month? The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the indigenous peoples of Australia. Listening to their experiences is one way of showing respect. You can learn more about their experience of culture and faith here. The Catholic Church in Australia celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on the first Sunday in July. There are lots of resources to help you pray for Pope Francis’ intention this month in this kit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2016. This website was built on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the Guringai people of the Eora nation as the traditional custodians of this land and pay respect to their elders past and present. Watch the Pope Video
Migrants, Refugees & the Gospel of Mercy The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office has prepared a kit for Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2016. It will help individuals, parishes, schools and communities to celebrate the event. The kit shares Pope Francis’ World Day of Migration Message for 2016, and a message from Bishop Vincent Long. Bishop Long is the Australian Bishops’ Delegate for Migrants and Refugees and himself arrived in Australia as a refugee. The Migrant and Refugee Sunday kit also provides liturgy and prayer materials and an article about Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini. She is the universal patron saint of immigrants and we will celebrate the centenary of her death next year. Linking the event to the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Bishop Long said “as Christians, our attitude towards those in need is formed by our own experience of God’s love and mercy.” Thus “we can show them the love and mercy of God precisely because we ourselves are the recipients of the same love and mercy.” He sees “encounter and acceptance of others” as being “intertwined with the encounter and acceptance of God himself.” Hence “welcoming others means welcoming God in person!” Bishop Long declared that the Australian Bishops “stand united with Pope Francis who has given us strong leadership on the care of asylum seekers and refugees.” His message welcomes the active assistance given by Catholic organisations and parishes to refugees and asylum seekers. He encouraged all Catholics “to enact the culture of encounter, welcome and acceptance in practical, personal and communal ways.” Get the Kit Download the Migrant and Refugee Sunday 2016 Kit here.
The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (ACSJC) has a tradition of focusing on worker justice issues during the month of May and their Chair usually issues a Pastoral Statement for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker. They explain that: “This year, the day usually given to the Memorial of St Joseph the Worker, 1 May, falls on the 6th Sunday of Easter, which takes precedence over the memorial according to the norms of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal and the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar. So, while there is no Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, we continue the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council’s tradition of raising important issues concerning work and economic justice during the month of May.” Three Worker Justice Issues Instead, for 2016, the ACSJC has offered reflections on three issues: 1. The inadequate levels of income support offered to people who are unemployed; 2. The risk that penalty rates will be cut for vulnerable workers; and 3. The increasing intrusion of work demands into family time and weekends. You can read the full text here. These issues have been raised by the ACSJC and other Church and community organisations over many years. The ACSJC continues to call on Australia’s political leaders to address these areas where the dignity of work continues to be devalued or denied to vulnerable members of our society.