The Good Friday Death Penalty Prayer Vigil returns this Friday after a 2 year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. The vigil, which has been hosted by the Archdiocesan Justice & Peace Commission in collaboration with Corinda-Graceville Parish, started in 2008.
It will be held on Good Friday, 15 April, at 12 noon at Christ the King Church, Churchill Street, Graceville, in the home parish of Scott Rush who was sentenced to death in Indonesia in 2005. His sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.
Two other Australians in the Bali 9 group of drug offenders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were also sentenced to death and subsequently executed.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Rush Family plans to attend the vigil.
Since 2008, the Commission has hosted a prayer vigil on Good Friday to pray for those on death row around the world, for their families and for the victims of crime. COVID-19 has prevented us from gathering for this prayer vigil, but we are pleased to announce that the vigil will go ahead this year. We thank Corinda-Graceville Parish for collaborating with us in hosting this vigil once again.
This Thursday 17 March is Close the Gap Day. It is a time to focus on closing the gap in the living standards between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and other Australians, especially in health. A coalition of community groups sponsor the day. Find out more here.
Peace in Our World
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. One appeal which you can support here.
You can keep in touch with further action and appeals by the Ukrainian Community of Queensland here.
We invite you to also pray for those in other parts of the world who continue to live with violence and oppression including Myanmar and West Papua.
An update on the situation in Myanmar is available here.
A number of UN experts recently expressed their concerns about the on-going violence, human rights violations and displacement of Indigenous Papuans in West Papua. Their letter to the Indonesian Government is available here.
Chris Gibbings is at the helm of an initiative to provide an opportunity for everyone to vigil with the people of Ukraine and those affected by violence in other parts of the world. The Commission will be one of those individuals and groups who will hold a space of vigil and prayer every week as part of the World Peace Prayer initiative. If you would like to get involved by joining the vigil at a particular time or you, your group, parish, school or office would like to hold the vigil space at a particular time , go here.
In collaboration with the ACBC Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, the Commission has immersed itself in an initiative to develop resources to assist Catholics who want to ground their social and environmental action in a culture of encounter. It is called Signs of Our Times. The initiative’s web site is continuing to develop and we hope it will be fully launched in a couple of months. Pastoral themes to underpin Catholic social and environmental action and resources for reflecting with scripture and the Church’s tradition are already available. We intend to upload some video material soon.
As part of our commitment to provide support to Catholics wanting to take action, we will continue our accompaniment of the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg this year. This is being done in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry Team. We thank Coordinator, Ravina Waldren, for her support, guidance and participation. Our journey with the people of Cherbourg will be documented on the initiative’s web site over the course of 2022. In due course, we hope to invite Catholics in the Archdiocese to participate with us. Take a look at the Signs of Our Times web site
Respect @ Work
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, delivered a report on sexual harassment in the workplace last week. It contained 55 recommendations. Ms. Jenkins provided an update on the implementation of these recommendations during the Jessie Street Lecture on 7 March.
During the lecture, Ms. Jenkins referred to a survey on the implementation of a number of the report’s recommendations. The survey is being conducted by the Attorney-General’s Department. It is simple and easy to complete. The deadline for completing the survey is this Friday 18 March. Please consider completing the survey at https://consultations.ag.gov.au/rights-and-protections/respect-at-work/
Solidarity with Refugees
The Commission is working with a number of organisations to plan election advocacy for fair and just refugee policies. This includes the Time for a Home Coalition. When plans are completed, we will update you.
Death Penalty Vigil
The pandemic prevented the Commission from holding our annual death penalty prayer vigil on Good Friday last year. With the easing of restrictions this year, we plan to hold a Good Friday vigil in solidarity with all those on death row around the world. We are in the process of confirming the venue for the usual time of 12:00 PM and will advise you soon. So, please put it in your diary as a date claimer -15 April at 12:00PM.
There are so many opportunities for us to pray, reflect, learn and act in the spirit of Laudato Si’ this Lent and beyond. Here are just a few from which you can choose:
The Path of Contemplation is a weekly on-line meditation focused on ecological conversion. It is facilitated by Judith Keller and Gerard Sullivan who are highly experienced spiritual directors. This time of contemplation happens every Monday, 4:00 – 4:35 PM Brisbane time. For more details, please contact Judith and Gerrard at email@example.com
The Climate Council recently ran a webinar to tell you what you need to know about the latest Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report on the science of climate change impacts.
Our friends in the Pacific have been campaigning for a moratorium on deep sea mining over the last year and the Deep Sea Mining Campaign’s web site is coming soon – https://dsm-campaign.org/
Enrolments for the first year of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform will close on 22 April. Individuals, families, schools, parishes and businesses can all enrol and begin developing a plan to journey towards ecological conversion. The Commission is one of the global partners who continue to develop the Platform and its resources and we are available to accompany you if you choose to enrol. Simply connect with us on the contact details below.s
An exciting opportunity for us to deepen our commitment to ecological conversion is the International Ignatian Eco-Spirituality Conference (virtual) from April 25 to April 30. Click here for all the details,
Our friends in the Anglican Church have produced a Lenten resource with scripture reflections for each week at bit.ly/lentcalendar22
Earth Overshoot Day in Australia this year is Wednesday 23 March. It’s the day when it is estimated we use more of Earth’s resources than it can renew annually. See more at http://www.facebook.com.OvershootDayAuss
Recordings of two webinars run by the Commission last year
Cultivating a Sense of Place: Contemplative Ecology in a Time of Loss with Prof. Douglas Christie and Dr. Sandie Cornish
Engaging with Laudato Si’: Caring for Our Common Home, a workshop with Dave Copeman, Dr. Ian Elmer, Dr Sandie Cornish and Dr. Paul Chandler
This newsletter is authorised by Commission Chair, Ms. Maree Rose.
Executive Officer, Catholic Justice & Peace Commission, Archdiocese of Brisbane
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
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
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:
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’sDon’t Let Nature Go to Wastecampaign.
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.
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
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
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
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:
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…
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 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.
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
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.
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
Another year over, a new one just begun. It’s been another eventful year in many ways, hasn’t it? In my own life, there certainly have been some very joyful moments such as the birth of our sixth grandchild. There have also been some very stressful and difficult times for us in our family. I’m sure you could say the same about your year too.
COVID seems to have dominated our lives for another year and it refuses to go away. It seems to me that, while we have been preoccupied with our own health, the collective health of Australian society and the world have suffered. If you watch the TV and look at Facebook, it seems like we have quarantined ourselves, individually and collectively, from the rest of the world. It’s all about being safe, getting vaccinated and, now, lining up for a booster shot. Don’t get me wrong! I think it’s a good thing to protect ourselves and those around us from COVID-19 as best we can, but, when I look at what I’ve done this year, I’m left with the nagging feeling that I’m still too wrapped up in myself and indifferent to the struggles of people, near and far, of the planet itself and all the creatures we share it with. How did you go this year?
We are about to celebrate the birth of Jesus. He is the centre of our faith. In him, God became one of us. Just like us, he certainly had fun, but he also knew how much of a desperate struggle life can be. What is special about him is that he didn’t get wrapped up in his own worries. Jesus lived the love of God with every breath he took. He put aside his own worries and concerns and brought hope and love into the lives of people he encountered on the streets.
I don’t think I’m anywhere near that yet, as much as I’ve tried. I still have plenty of self-centred, self-indulgent and just plain selfish moments. What was your experience this year?
While we’ve been pre-occupied with getting fully vaccinated and rushing to get our booster shot and preparing to vaccinate our kids, most of us probably didn’t notice that over a quarter of a million Indonesian children have contracted COVID-19 and about 700 have died from the disease. Compare that with 1 Australian child who has passed away because of COVID.
If you’re like me, you’ve been busy this week buying food for a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. I suspect not many of us have wondered what Christmas Day will be like for the thousands of people surviving on the meagre Job Seeker benefit or the age or disability pension. What about the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who will be missing family members at the Christmas table because they have taken their lives or have gone to jail? What about the women and kids who have fled family and domestic violence or people sleeping rough on the streets?
My wife and I have already had a holiday at the beach this month. Many of you will enjoy a week or two by the sea as well, but many Torres Strait Islanders and Pacific Islanders are worried sick about rising seas taking their homes and hundreds of families in the Philippines are mourning the loss of family members and mopping up after another devastating typhoon. I ask myself whether I really care about them. Should I be doing more to offer hope and what does that look like?
My family has lived in the same comfortable home in Ipswich for 36 years. We have a car and can go wherever we want – well, except when we were in lockdown. Yet, there are many refugees still locked up in detention centres in Australia or offshore after 8 years of waiting. Many have been released into the community, including kids, and left to fend for themselves. Millions of refugees have fled violence and persecution and are either internally displaced or in another country including tens of thousands of civilians in West Papua. Violence and oppression are still happening in places like Hong Kong and Myanmar even though the media has stopped reporting it for the most part. How does Jesus being born make a difference for them?
I could go on, but you get the idea.
John and Yoko said “war is over if you want it”. They are right! War and injustice and oppression can be over if we want it. And Jesus is our hope if we are prepared to follow him.
I’m taking a break at the moment and will be back fully on 1 February. Our Commission members are also taking a well earned break. Thanks to our Chair, Maree Rose and the members of the Commission for their strength, wisdom and commitment. They are truly wonderful people!
Thanks to you all as well. Whether you’re in a parish or a school or in a religious congregation or a special group or you’re simply doing your best somehow to make a difference. You are truly precious!
As for 2022, I know I need to be more faithful in following Jesus. For me, that means putting aside my own needs more, getting away from the office and my laptop, and being with people in the midst of their struggles. Are you feeling like Jesus is inviting you to make some changes in your life too? I hope we can help each other to face up to the challenge – wherever it takes us.
In the meantime…A very Merry Christmas And a Happy New Year Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear.
On October 6, the Australian and PNG Governments came to an agreement that would result in the end of Australia using PNG as an offshore immigration processing centre. Read the full text of the Joint media release between the Hon Karen Andrews MP and the Hon. Westly Nukundj MP – Finalisation of the Regional Resettlement Arrangement here.
While the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands welcomes the end of offshore processing in PNG, it expresses serious concerns about the continuing impact of Australia’s shifting of its responsibility to Pacific neighbours and the on-going hardship placed on the refugees in both PNG and Nauru.
Please read the comments from the Church in PNG and e-mail the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, who announce the new arrangement. Urge her to stop shifting responsibility to support and resettle the refugees to our Pacific neighbours. Encourage her to bring all the refugees back to Australia so that we can take direct responsibility for the refugees: Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please continue to send a similar message to the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, who was recently promoted to Cabinet. His e-mail address is: Alex.email@example.com
Please continue to pray for our Pacific neighbours and for the refugees. In October, please especially pray the Rosary.
Prime Minister Morrison was urged to support the human rights of the people of West Papua and a United Nations Mission when he joined Pacific leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders retreat on August 6th.