Monthly Archives: February 2022

The Cries of the Earth and the Cries of the Poor

February 2022

Do You Remember the Apology to Members of the Stolen Generations?

February 13 is the anniversary of the Australian Parliament’s 2008 apology to members of the Stolen Generations. Do you know much about the Stolen Generations  and the work that is being done to promote healing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders affected by the policy of forcible removal of children? Link-Up Queensland does this work in our State. Why not check out their web site, learn more and find out how you can support their work:

Learning about Aboriginal History

Frontier War Stories image featuring map of Australia in Indigenous colors with male and female figures in front.

Boe Spearim is a Brisbane broadcaster who has produced a series of podcasts telling stories about the Aboriginal engagement with colonisers. Check out his Frontier War Stories

Signs of Our Times

The Commission and the ACBC Office for Justice Ecology and Peace gave you a sneak peek at our new resource to help Catholics to embrace a culture of encounter in their social and environmental action. The resource is grounded in the Bible and the social teaching of the Church. Take a look at the resources that are already available on our special web site and stay tuned for the hard launch of Signs of Our Times in a few months time:

Five coloured circles with text naming

Get Involved in Reducing Waste on Clean Up Australia Day

Last Sunday, Pope Francis lamented the amount of plastic waste which ends up in the sea. He said: “It kills biodiversity, it kills the earth, it kills everything!”

On average, each Australian produces 130kg of plastic waste. Less than 12% is recycled. 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the sea every year and things are getting worse. Plastic waste can be fatal to sea birds, turtles and whales. WWF has lots of information on Australia’s waste problem and actions you can take to minimise waste and its harmful impacts. Take a look at WWF’s Don’t Let Nature Go to Waste campaign.

One small action you can take to protect birds in our waterways is to cut the elastic loops on face masks before you dispose of them. More and more birds are being found with masks tangled around their beaks. We can stop this with a moment of care each time we throw away our masks.

Please consider registering for one of the many Clean Up events all around SE Queensland.

Getting Involved with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Laudato Si Action Platform logo featuring a tree with a rainbow coloured top

If you haven’t already looked at the information and resources which have been developed for the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, please do so soon. Around 200 Catholic organisations from around the world have collaborated with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to develop this resource which offers discernment tools, resources for action and planning guides to help families and households, schools, parishes, hospitals, aged care homes, religious orders, universities and businesses to develop a plan of action to respond to the challenges of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. Have a look and please consider enrolling:

Tapping into Our Spiritual Heritage to Learn How to Care for Our Common Home

A bee hovers over flowers in front of a crucifix at a cemetery in Santiago, Chile, Feb. 18, 2021. (CNS/Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

In the last chapter of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis encourages us to tap into our rich heritage to help us cultivate a spirituality to support us on our journey of ecological conversion. Barbara Fraser wrote about eco-spirituality in a recent article for NCR. It’s well worth a read and would be a useful resource for private reflection or for a group conversation. Read the article here.

Taking Time to Pray and Reflect on the Place of Animals in God’s Creation

SARX Logo

For something different this Lent, you might like to take a look at the app produced by British group, Sarx, to help you to reflect on our relationship with animals. Find out more about 40 Days with God’s Creatures

It’s Time to Set the Refugees Free

St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne featuring a banner with the text: Let's Fully Welcome Refugees

Religious leaders came together in Melbourne recently to launch a campaign calling on PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to work together to release all those refugees still in detention in Australia. Why not take this story to your local Federal mP or Senator and urge them to advocate for the release of all those refugees still in detention? A report on the #SetThemFree campaign is at:

The Cries of the Earth and the Cries of the Poor Clean Up Australia Day Special 2022

Clean Up Australia Day is Just 4 Weeks Away on Sunday 6 March!

The Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane invites you to consider joining a local clean up event or organising your own. Individuals, families and households, parishes, schools, youth groups, businesses and offices can all get involved.

Clean Up Australia Day is Sunday 6 March. Schools Clean Up Australia Day is Friday 4 March. There are already many registered events across South-East Queensland listed on the Clean Up Australia web site. You can organise your own  clean up event on those days or any day of the year.

Why Should Christians Get Involved?

In his 2015 encyclical on caring for our common home, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis invited us all to commit ourselves to a journey of ecological conversion, a journey in which we renew our relationships with God and all that God has created, human and non-human alike. Part of that journey involves turning our backs on extreme consumerism and working to minimise the waste of the earth’s resources, a sad consequence of this consumerist mindset.

The Holy Father points to many ecological problems including the build-up of millions of tonnes of waste :

…Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish…

These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them…

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 21 – 22

For the Pope, many of the ecological problems we face, including the build-up of waste, are connected to our being caught up in a destructive whirlwind of consumerism:

The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears…

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 204

Pope Francis encourages us to look to the rich heritage of Christian spirituality as a resource we can offer for the renewal of humanity in the current climate of ecological and social crises:

Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 222.

Helping to Clean Up Australia Is a Start

You can join community clean up events in your locality or register your own clean up. Registration is easy and Clean Up Australia will send you kits to help you to run a clean up event efficiently and safely.

You can search for local events, register an event and get other information about organising an event for your parish, school, youth group or office at: https://www.cleanup.org.au/

We Need to Go Beyond Cleaning Up Waste

Image of two people walking on grassland Text: Laudato Si' Goal 6 Ecological Spirituality
Source: https://oppeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/6.png

Beyond cleaning up the accumulation of waste in our environment, we need to explore how the spiritual practices of centuries of our Christian tradition can help to change our lives and the life of the world for the better.  Spiritual renewal is needed to address major ecological problems like the waste of the earth’s resources and the accumulation of rubbish in the environment. In the weeks leading up to Clean Up Australia Day and after, we will endeavour to offer you some help to do this.

Listening to the word of God is an essential part of our journey of ecological conversion. In this regard, you may find it useful to listen to the recently released Revolution of Tenderness podcast, Interpreting Scripture from an Ecological Stance with biblical scholar, Sr. Veronica Lawson: https://anchor.fm/office-for-social-justice/episodes/Interpreting-Scripture-from-an-Ecological-Stance-with-Sr-Veronica-Lawson-e1ds5vo

We also need to assist in the transition to what the Pope calls a circular model of production” where everything is a resource and there is no such thing as waste. Clean Up Australia offers information and resources to help you to step up your commitment to reducing waste and promoting a circular economy: https://www.cleanup.org.au/waste-challenges

In 2020, the Commission collaborated with Clean Up Australia to present a short webinar exploring some of the steps we need to take to promote a circular economy.

In the coming weeks, we will offer more to support you in the lead up to Clean Up Australia Day. Stay tuned!

Authorised by Ms. Maree Rose, Chair of the Catholic Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane