Category Archives: religion

Translate Desire for Communion with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples into Action

In May this year, members of the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry Team and the Justice and Peace Commission joined with the Aboriginal Catholic community of Stradbroke Island to remember the establishment of the first Catholic Aboriginal mission in Australia and to renew the commitment of the Church of Brisbane to a deep and lasting bond with the first peoples of this land.

At that special celebration, Archbishop Coleridge told us that the desire for a deep bond of communion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples did not die with the failure of the mission on Stradbroke Island. This desire remains strong within the Church today.

He also told us that the Church is committed to honouring the dignity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by seeking to empower them to shape their own future.

The Archdiocesan Murri Ministry Team and Justice and Peace Commission embrace the Archbishop’s words with great passion and joy and urge parishes, schools and agencies around the Archdiocese to also embrace his words wholeheartedly and turn them into action.

At the 2011 Census, there were 12,935 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. There are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics living in every parish. In some, there is only a handful. In many, there are dozens and even hundreds. Yet, we know that very few come to parishes for the celebration of the Eucharist each Sunday.

We acknowledge the many efforts in parishes, schools and agencies over many years to reach out to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We encourage these efforts to continue and to grow.

We encourage every parish, school and agency to not only strive to be a community of welcome and hospitality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but to also go out into the community to meet and dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples where they live.

We also encourage parishes, schools and agencies to make efforts to develop a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and spirituality. More opportunities for cross-cultural training and education are needed to enable this to happen.

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we also urge parishes, schools and agencies to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their struggle for dignity and empowerment. In this regard, we especially recommend that efforts be made to learn about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A commitment to understand their relationship with the land and the sea, their experience of racism and their struggle against disadvantage and inequity will strengthen and deepen the bonds of communion to which the God of love constantly invites us.

This commitment requires more than an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. It needs a concerted effort every day of every year. Building trust with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is not easy. Years of humiliation and hurt have created significant barriers between us. Nevertheless, this is a task which is part and parcel of the mission of the Church in our place and time. We invite all Catholics to embrace this task, not as a burden, but as a wonderful gift from God.

This statement is issued by the Commission with the support of the Murri Ministry Team. For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

Australian Government Urged to Engage with Sri Lanka on Human Rights

Monday 12 November 2012

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged the Australian Government to accept the recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee that it seek to establish a human rights dialogue with Sri Lanka.

The Commission made a submission last year to an inquiry into human rights dialogues with China and Vietnam and its Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, appeared earlier this year before a public hearing conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, along with Pax Christi Queensland Coordinator, Fr Pan Jordan.

Mr Arndt said that the primary concern of its Submission to the inquiry was to encourage the expansion of the Australian Government’s human rights dialogues program with the Governments of China and Vietnam to include a dialogue with Sri Lanka.

“We began to express our concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka at the height of the civil war in 2008 and 2009 and we continue to be concerned about what is happening there since the war ended in May 2009,” Mr Arndt said.

“The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution in March this year calling for action by the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission as there was little action to address the grave concerns about human rights violations committed during the war,” he said.

“Sri Lanka’s human rights record came under scrutiny again this month when it was examined as part of a routine four-yearly Universal Periodic Review conducted by the UN Human Rights Council,” he said.

“Major human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group continue to raise their concerns about on-going extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and the lack of judicial independence and media freedom,” he said.

“On the same day as the UN review of Sri Lanka’s human rights record commenced, the Sri Lankan Government introduced legislation into the Parliament to impeach the country’s Chief Justice,” he said.

Mr Arndt said that recent reports from Church bodies such as the Justice and Peace Commission in the Diocese of Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka and discussions he has had with senior Church officials in Sri Lanka suggest that there has been no improvement particularly for the Tamil people in their homelands since the war ended,” he said.

“The military is still present in large numbers in the north and the east and they are a highly intimidating presence,” he said.

“One Church leader I spoke to said that he was safe as long as he did not speak out about the poor treatment of his people by the military and the Government,” Mr Arndt said.

“He clearly have good reason to fear reprisals if he complains or criticises the Government,” he said.

Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Manna has been threatened repeatedly by Government Ministers for speaking out about human rights concerns in his diocese and a judge who complained recently about executive interference in the courts was assaulted,” he said.

“We have worked with other organisations in the local Sri Lanka Justice Forum to pressure the Government to implement the recommendation to seek a human rights dialogue with Sri Lanka,” he said.

“Australia cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in a neighbouring country because we want their cooperation to stem the flow of asylum seekers,” he said.

“Indeed, one of the reasons why Sri Lankans are fleeing the country is that they continue to face serious repression and human rights abuses,” he said.

“We are grateful to local MPs and Senators who have taken our concerns to the Government and will continue to work with them to bring about improvements in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka,” he added.

For further information and comment, please contact Peter Arndt (Executive Officer, Catholic Justice & Peace Commission) on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

This statement is issued by the Commission under the provisions of its mandate which enable it to speak in its own right and has been authorised by the Commission’s Executive.

The Statement of the Indonesian Bishop’s Conference on Papua

Monday, 21 November 2011, 1:47 pm
Press Release: Indonesian Bishop’s Conference on Papua

Annual meetings of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, 07-17 November 2011

The Statement of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference on Papua: Stop Violence! Let Us Hold A Dialogue!

Violence in Papua continues to occur despite the fact that many parties have repeatedly called for resorting to peaceful means to solve Papua issues. People’s welfare can only be achieved if there is a peaceful atmosphere that allows all elements of a society work together peacefully. Violent ways are unlikely to solve so many social problems. Violence contra violence only gives birth to new violence and thus increases problems. It can be worse whenever public views and political statements expressed by the Papuans in a peaceful and transparent manner are again met with gunfire, arbitrary arrest, torture and killings. Herewith, we, the Indonesian bishops’ conference, express our deepest concerns and condemn violence acts that ostensibly do not promote human dignity and derogate the right to life, a God’s gift to every human being.


Violence and human rights abuses against the Papuans constitute a long story and history. The Papuan laments stemming from the history of mistreatment cannot be appeased or silenced merely with government statements and ad hoc government policies. The central government has to show the courage to change its attitude and to take a new approach and a new solution that specifically deals with the interests and the welfare of the Papuans. While reiterating its concerns and solidarity with all victims, the KWI conveys our appeals to the central government:

  • We encourage the central government to hold dialogue with the Papuans. President Yudhoyono’s commitment to solve Papua’s problems publicly expressed earlier during his presidential term needs to be realised. The method should be a way of dialogue. Impressive statements such as “to develop Papua with heart” should begin with a dialogue by heart. With an open heart, without any stigma, the government should listen to the Papuans’ laments and their history of suffering they have experienced since the integration with Indonesia.
  • To implement a constructive dialogue with the Papuans, we encourage the government to facilitate meetings among various elements of the Papuan society including the local government, the local parliament and the Papuan People Council (MRP) in order to accommodate their aspirations in regard to the means and substance of a dialogue.
  • Groups that have fought for Papua independence, either the OPM or any other names, either reside inside Indonesia or overseas, have to have a privilege in the 2 K 11 – 5 STOP VIOLENCE AND LET US HOLD A DIALOGUE!– Annual meetings of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, 07-17 November 2011 2 dialogue. To ensure that dialogue will be carried out in a dignified, fair, truthful and respectful, a trusted third party should be established to act as a mediator.
  • In regard to all forms of human rights abuses from which the Papuans suffer, the government has to uphold justice, offers an apology, recompenses and restores the rights of the Papuans.
  • The Special Autonomy Law is meant to provide protection and affirmative actions for the Papuans in developing their welfare. Yet many aspects have not been implemented. Due to the high cash flow in Papua, the spontaneous transmigrants continue to overwhelm Papua. In many aspects of the daily life, the Papuans have been marginalised by these transmigrants. We encourage the government to revisit the demography policy and to focus on developing local human resources to fill the existing employment.
  • The figures and types of the security forces deployed in Papua are far too many. They do not have programs to positively kill time and to benefit the locals. Their attitude and behaviour more frequently cause them an enemy of the local community rather than a provider for safety and security for them. We encourage the government to reduce the number of the Indonesian military and only deploy those who are mature enough and able to become part of the local community so that they genuinely become protection and safety for the people.

These are our appeals. Whilst we hope that the government will pay attention to our concerns, we express our strongest support to the inter-faith leaders and all parties who work for Papua Land of Peace. Jakarta, 17 November 2011

The Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, Msgr. Martinus D. Situmorang, OFM Cap Chairman Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Secretary General

This is an unofficial translation.

 For media contact: Father Benny Susetyo, mobile: +62-812-3542 153

Building Bridges, Not Walls: Prisons and the justice system

Social Justice Sunday 2011 – 25 September

Resources available from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Letter from Archbishop Philip Wilson (pdf)
Order form (pdf) 
Summary (pdf)
Media release (pdf)
Liturgy notes (pdf)
Community and schools resource (pdf)
PowerPoint presentation (pptx)

Social Justice Statement 2011–2012 (pdf)
Social Justice Statement 2011–2012 (doc)

Commission Continues Support for Scott Rush and Other Australians

Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission welcomed the Indonesian Supreme Court’s decision to reduce Scott Rush’s death sentence to life imprisonment, but insisted that it must continue its support for Scott Rush and for the other Australians who are still on death row in Indonesia.

The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that life imprisonment in Indonesia for Scott Rush was not acceptable.

“We are, of course, happy that Scott Rush will not have to worry about facing a firing squad any more, but life in prison in Bali is still a dreadful prospect,” Mr Arndt said.

“We know that Scott and his family have been greatly supported by the prayers and practical help of so many people over the last few years, but they now face the stark reality of Scott living for the rest of his life in the most appalling conditions,” he said.

“At our recent Good Friday prayer vigil, we learned how concerned Scott’s parents are over the living conditions in Scott’s Bali prison,” he said.

“We will look at what support we can give to them to get a reasonable and appropriate outcome for Scott,” he said.

“Those who have faithfully come to the Commission’s Good Friday vigils and our monthly prayer vigils will know that we have not only been praying for Scott, but also for the other two Australians on death row in Indonesia and for everyone on death row around the world,” he said.

“Our prayers and our action must continue for them too,” he said.

“We must continue to promote the sanctity of life and the human dignity of every person including those who have committed the most horrible crimes,” he said.

The Commission’s next death penalty prayer vigil will be held at Christ the King Church, Churchill Street, Graceville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday 24 May.

For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.


World Peace Day 2011


1 JANUARY 2011


At the beginning of the new year I offer good wishes to each and all for serenity and prosperity, but especially for peace. Sadly, the year now ending has again been marked by persecution, discrimination, terrible acts of violence and religious intolerance

I implore all men and women of good will to renew their commitment to building a world where all are free to profess their religion or faith, and to express their love of God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind (cf. Mt 22:37). This is the sentiment which inspires and directs this Message for the XLIV World Day of Peace, devoted to the theme:Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace


Oldest Justice and Peace Commission Celebrates Milestone

cjpclogoAustralia’s oldest diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, celebrated twenty-five years of service to the Archdiocese of Brisbane this year.

The Commission was established by the late Archbishop Francis Rush in 1985 and held its first meeting in what was, then, the Indooroopilly Parish Education Centre in October of that year.

Its first Chair was the late Fr Morgan Howe who was Parish Priest of Indooroopilly Parish at the time.

With the opening by the Sisters of Mercy of Justice Place in Woolloongabba in 1992, the Commission established an office and moved its meetings there.

Former Deputy Director of the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, Mr Garry Everett, and Principal of St Agnes Primary School, Mt Gravatt, Mr Rick Sheehan, have followed Fr Howe in the role of Chair of the Commission.

The Commission has been served by three Executive Officers, Mr Brian O’Halloran, Sr Annette Arnold rsj and the current Executive Officer, Mr Peter Arndt.

Over seventy Catholic women and men, religious, priests and bishops have served as members of the Commission in its twenty-five years.  Among those who have served on the Commission are Bishop John Gerry and Bishop Joseph Oudeman, President of the Senate, Senator John Hogg, Member for Morayfield in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Mark Ryan, Aboriginal elder, Aunty Joan Hendriks an former Josephite Provincial Leader, Sr Margaret Robertson rsj.

The Commission’s current Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission had walked with many people who face injustice, violence and discrimination.

“The Commission has been there with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as they struggled for justice in relation to native title, the Stolen Generations, stolen wages, deaths in custody and the Northern Territory Intervention,” Mr Arndt said.

“We have tried to bring Catholics face to face with the indignities confronting refugees as they sought protection in Australia,” he said.

“The Commission has also tried to support the struggle of people for their human rights and for justice in places like East Timor, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and West Papua,” he said.

“Many Catholics around Brisbane joined with the Commission in challenging Australia’s participation in the Iraq War,” he said.

“In recent years, the Commission has also put more emphasis on caring for the Earth with our Cool Communities Project in 2003 and 2004, our collaboration with the Social Action Office in the holding of a Climate Change Conference in 2007, and our more recent collaboration with Catholic Earthcare Australia on the ASSISI Project,” he said.

The Commission  marked its silver anniversary with a Eucharist  led by Archbishop John Bathersby on Friday 5 November  at Holy Family Catholic Church, Indooroopilly.

Sr Annette Arnold rsj, the Commission’s second Executive Officer, delivered an address: Mary MacKillop and the challenge to the Australian Church after the Eucharist.  Sr Annette is now a member of the Provincial Leadership Team of the Sisters of St Joseph and was heavily involved in the recent celebrations surrounding the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome.

For further infomation, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.

NB  This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right when required.  The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Supporting 101 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful Referendum

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

Logo From Sudan Catholic Bishops Web

The Sudan Catholic Bishops have urged southern Sudanese to choose a life of freedom with justice and equal rights for all during the forthcoming referendum.

All the Bishops from all the states in Sudan gathered for an extraordinary plenary meeting in Juba to deliberate on the current situation in the country and delivered their message of hope.

The President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak told the press on Thursday in Juba that there are still worrying signs in Sudan that discourages integration of the north and the south. (See interview on Sudan Radio here)

SCBC Pastoral A future full of hope A Mesage of Hope and a Call to Action. Addressed to all the people of Sudan, the Sudanese leaders, and all people of good will

Sudanese Bishops Call for Peaceful Vote

101 Days Campaign Poster (pdf file)

Spanning the 101 days between the United Nation’s International Day of Peace on September 21, 2010, and the Church’s World Day of Peace, January 1, 2011, a campaign has been launched to help Catholics become advocates for peace. The campaign brings together the Sudan Catholic Bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services, in an urgent call for peace.

Sudan is a nation with a long history of war, and finds itself at a historic crossroads. The country is bracing for a January 11 referendum, a crucial provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, on whether the South will secede from the North. If the referendum comes off peacefully, with an outcome that is respected by all, it could lead Sudan into a new era of peace and prosperity. If it does not, the result could be catastrophic violent conflict.

Sister Patricia Murray is the Executive Director of the initiative “Solidarity with Southern Sudan”, she tells Vatican Radio’s Festus Tarawalie more about it… “one of the challenges in a country that has suffered from long periods of war is – as one young man said to me – is: “I have to learn to make peace” – he said “I’ve learnt how to make war, but now teach me how to make peace (Source: Vatican Radio Web)

Solidarity with Southern Sudan trains teachers, nurses and pastoral personnel in several locations throughout Southern Sudan. This initiative was inspired by the 2004 Rome Congress on Consecrated Life, Passion for Christ Passion for Humanity.

Action: Print, pray and distribute the Prayer Text for 101 Days of Prayer for Sudan

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

NATSICC Assembly 2009

NATSICC Assembly 2009

Today is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council provided liturgy resources.

As web editor of this site, I would like to invite you to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday 2010 with images and reflections I have prepared from some of my documentary work among Indigenous people.