Understanding God’s love for humanity, the commandment of love calls forth a renewed commitment as a response to that love. This encyclical articulates the Church’s charitable activity as an expression of God’s love. Charity must be grounded in a personal encounter with Christ, who awakens the meaning of love of neighbor.
Pope Benedict XVI deepens the Church’s social teachings, by grounding them in love and truth. Justice is linked to charity and the faithful are called to practice justice for the common good. Building a future of peace, justice and love is dependent on fundamental values of justice and charity.
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’ (The Letter); an encyclical letter about the environmental crisis to every single person in the world. A few years later, four voices that have gone unheard in global conversations have been invited to an unprecedented dialogue with the Pope. Hailing from Senegal, the Amazon, India, and Hawai’i, they bring perspective and solutions from the poor, the indigenous, the youth, and wildlife into a conversation with Pope Francis himself. This documentary follows their journey to Rome and the extraordinary experiences that took place there, and is packed with powerfully moving personal stories alongside the latest information about the planetary crisis and the toll it’s taking on nature and people. Because, in the words of the Laudato Si’ Movement chair Lorna Gold, “once you know, you CANNOT look away.” #LaudatoSiFilm Learn more about the protagonists and how you can take action at https://TheLetterFilm.org
The National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) has just released its resource booklet for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday on 3 July. It has resources for you to use including liturgy notes, homily notes, youth resources and lots more.
Refugee Week is 19 – 25 June. The theme of Refugee Week this year is Healing. The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office and the Office for Justice Ecology and Peace have collaborated to provide you with resources to help you celebrate Refugee Week. They have also organised a Refugee Week prayer service on Monday 20 June at 6:00 PM. You can register for the on-line service and find the resources at:
A Laudato Si’ Action Plan for the Archdiocese of Brisbane was launched on Pentecost Sunday which was also World Environment Day. The plan has been accepted by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and is on its Laudato Si’ Action Platform. It contains a range of actions linked to the Platform’s seven goals. Further actions will be added in the coming seven years. Agencies within the Archdiocese will implement the actions. Resources and opportunities for parishes and individual Catholics will become available over the course of the next year. If you or your parish would like to know more and want to get involved at your pace and to suit your circumstances, please contact our Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signs of Our Times was officially launched on 31st May by Archbishop Coleridge. Signs of Our Times is a collaboration between the Commission and the ACBC Office for Justice Ecology and Peace. It seeks to promote a culture of encounter in Catholic social action. It encourages action which is grounded in prayer, scripture and the Church’s tradition.
A recording of the launch is available at:
At the launch, the Commission announced that it would undertake a number of initiatives including organising visits to Cherbourg Aboriginal community and offering help to parishes wanting to use the Signs of Our Times resources in their own context. If you want to find out more, plese contact our Executive Officer, Peter Arndt at email@example.com.
This newsletter caters for a wide range of interests. Don’t feel obliged to read every item. If you don’t have much time, just choose those items which interest you.
The Church in the Modern World
Ash Wednesday already seems a long time ago, but the Pope’s homily for that day is worth a read. He focusses on the temptation to seek recognition and admiration from others instead of the reward God offers us:
…The Lord, however, speaks of two kinds of reward to which our lives can tend: a reward from the Father and, on the other hand, a reward from others. The first is eternal, the true and ultimate reward, the purpose of our lives. The second is ephemeral, a spotlight we seek whenever the admiration of others and worldly success become the most important thing for us, our greatest gratification. Yet the latter is merely an illusion. It is like a mirage that, once we get there, proves illusory; it leaves us unfulfilled. Restlessness and discontent are always around the corner for those who look to a worldliness that attracts but then disappoints. Those who seek worldly rewards never find peace or contribute to peace. They lose sight of the Father and their brothers and sisters. This is a risk we all face, and so Jesus tells us to “beware”. As if to say: “You have a chance to enjoy an infinite reward, an incomparable reward. Beware, then, and do not let yourself be dazzled by appearances, pursuing cheap rewards that disappoint as soon as you touch them”. (Full text)
50 Years of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy
50 years ago, four young Aboriginal men erected the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. It is still going strong today. A recent podcast discusses the role the Tent Embassy has played in the struggle for land rights and the connection between that struggle and the struggle to overcome the many problems facing First Nations people in Australia. It’s well worth a listen here.
Learning about the History of Dispossession
So That We Remember is a web site which seeks to provide resources for a deepening awareness of the violent dispossession of Australia’s First Nations people:
Join an On-Line Forum – Fair Go for Refugees: Australia Can Do Better!
This online forum, hosted by the Australian Refugee Action Network and supported by Amnesty International, will explore our treatment of refugees and those who seek protection, and how this could be entirely different, with some reflection on Australia’s more enlightened response to the Vietnamese refugee crisis in the late 70s. Don’t miss a great line-up of speakers.
Palm Sunday Rally for Peace and Refugees
This year’s Palm Sunday Rally for Peace and Refugees will take place in King George Square, Adelaide Street, Brisbane, on Sunday 10 April from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The focus of the rally will be freedom and justice for refugees and an end to the militarism which creates refugees. All are welcome.
Refugees Need Your Support
Many of you helped to convince the Queensland Government to renew the contract for the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance (ASRA) Program last year. Although the $8 million over 4 years to provide wrap-around support for refugees and people seeking asylum was much more than we expected, the demand for support exceeds ASRA’s capacity. ASRA supports individuals and families who have had income and accommodation support removed and also those who have been released from detention without support. Paying rent is one of the biggest struggles. In the current rental market, when leases are renewed, weekly rents are being increased by between $30 and $50. If you can make a tax deductible donation to the ASRA Program, you will help to relieve the stress faced by many refugees in SE Queensland. Some have also lost much because of the recent floods.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, date of deposit and referencing ASRA Rent and you will be provided with a receipt for your tax deduction. For any further information or questions please email Anne Hilton email@example.com
Principles for Australia’s Refugee Policy
The Kaldor Centre at the University of NSW recently released an updated set of principles to guide Australia’s refugee policy. These will be a valuable resource if you want to raise issues about refugee policy with your local candidates in the upcoming Federal election. The principles are available in summary and in full here.
Caring for Our Common Home
Easter is coming soon. It’s a good time to think about taking some small actions to care for our common home.
Information about buying Easter eggs and chocolates which are not produced using slave labour and which don’t contribute to more deforestation is at:
There are many guides available to help you to celebrate Easter in a way that cares for the earth and all who live on it. Take a look at Clean Up Australia’s tips here.
Try to keep your Easter feast simple, minimise food waste and avoid wasteful packaging. Try offering an experience or a service as a gift instead of chocolate and other objects. With a bit of thought and care, we can minimise waste. The money you save could be added to your Project Compassion donation or to the Queensland flood relief appeal or to an environmental organisation working to protect endangered species like the koala.
Laudato Si’ Week is 16 – 24 May.
The Office for Justice Ecology and Peace has produced some resources for you to use each day for prayer, reflection and action:
Don’t forget enrolments for families, schools, parishes and other organisations for the Laudato Si’ Action Platform close on Earth Day, 22 April. But, don’t worry if you can’t enrol by then. A new round of enrolments will open later in 2022. For more information
The suffering of the people of Ukraine worsens as the Russian invasion continues. Many thanks to you all for your solidarity with the people of Ukraine in this time of great hardship. Your prayers and practical support are a sign of your commitment to peace and justice. Fr. Stefan and the Ukrainian Catholic Community continue to welcome you to join them in prayers for peace at daily divine service at the Ukrainian Catholic Church, 36 Broadway Street, Woolloongabba. Divine service commences at 9:00 Am each weekday and at 9:30 AM on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s service is in English.
There are a variety of appeals providing practical support to Ukrainians affected by the invasion, including the many who have fled to other countries. You might like to support this appeal.
You can keep in touch with further action and appeals by the Ukrainian Community of Queensland here.
We invite you to also include those in other parts of the world who continue to live with violence and oppression including Myanmar, Yemen and West Papua.
This newsletter is authorised by Commission Chair, Maree Rose.
The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement 2021-22: Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, affirms that “we human beings need a change of heart, mind, and behaviour”. It draws from Scripture, from the theological tradition, from Catholic Social Teaching, and from the wisdom of the world, including the insights of the First Nations.
The Social Justice Statement 2021-22 provides theological foundations to ground and inspire efforts to care for creation while responding to the needs of the disadvantaged and excluded. The Statement reflects on creation in and through the Trinity; the sacramentality of all created things; the wonder and beauty available to the contemplative eye; and the need for conversion and change of life.
In the Statement, the Bishops invite the whole Catholic community to join them in taking up Pope Francis’ invitation to a seven-year journey towards total ecological sustainability, guided by seven Laudato Si’ Goals. These Goals are: response to the cry of the earth; response to the cry of the poor; ecological economics; sustainable lifestyles; ecological spirituality; ecological education; and community engagement and participatory action.
The Statement especially encourages Catholic families, communities and organisations to: listen to the First Nations; reflect on the theological foundations offered in Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor; and plan their next steps towards the Laudato Si’ Goals.
Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor will be a useful resource throughout our seven-year journey to total sustainability. Your help in promoting it through your networks would be greatly appreciated.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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