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‘Where two or three are gathered, God takes over.’

Dr Edmund Chia (New Pentecost Forum 2006)

with Fr Peter Henriot sj and Fr Frank Brennan sj
Gleeson Auditorium,
ACU Strathfield, Sydney
May 12, noon – 1.30pm

The struggle for peace
with Dr William T. Cavanaugh
University of Melbourne, Parkville
May 18, 6.30pm

with Dr Edmund Chia, Dr Gemma Cruz,
Dr Paul Collins, Ms Hind Kourouche
and Rev. Rod Pattenden
ACU North Sydney
June 4, 10.30am – 7.30pm


Doing social justice:  the relevance of Social Analysis for today

When Peter Henriot SJ first published his best-selling book Social Analysis, (co-authored with Joe Holland) the Cold War and liberation theology were at their peak. The basic tool of the "pastoral circle" articulated in this book became a benchmark presentation of a methodology used by thousands of conscientious Catholics worldwide. The Cold War has since ended and social justice appears to be on the retreat in Australia. Is this practical approach to doing justice still relevant in today's age of globalisation and terror? How might we apply it to the Australian context? Can this tool be refashioned as a universal model of social action for all?

Fr Henriot, the Director of the Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia and editor of Pastoral Circle Revisited: A Critical Quest for Truth and Transformation will address these questions at the ACU Strathfield campus on Friday (May 12).  The respondent will be Frank Brennan, SJ, Professor of Law in the Institute of Legal Studies at the Australian Catholic University and Professor of Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Entry is free but a booking is required. (Enquiries and booking: Contact Uniya on (02) 9356 3888, or email: reception@uniya.org.)

Fr Henriot, who has lived for over 20 years in Zambia - one of the poorest countries in the world - will argue that to respond effectively to social issues, we need to move from a model of charity to a model of justice with "good social analysis" at the core of our living and acting.

"The faith that does justice must be informed by social analysis if it is to be effective and sustainable," he said.  "We will never deal with the impact of globalisation on poor countries in Africa like Zambia if we don't do good social analysis that reveals both the structural hopes."

Fr Henriot, who gained a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago, has written several books and many articles on social justice and Catholic social teaching. He taught at Seattle University and other American universities in the 1970s and 1980s, and was the director of the Centre of Concern in Washington D.C. until he took up his current position in 1989.  He is also involved in parish ministry as well as advising Catholic bishops on social justice matters. The Sydney address is one in a wider tour of Australia.  He is in Melbourne and already has conducted a workshop: Social Analysis, Social Discernment and Social Action: What are the Connections?

Tonight, from 8 o’clock, he will deliver a public lecture: Africa: So, Why is it a Priority for Jesuits and Church? followed by a conversation with Andrew Hamilton SJ.  It will be held in the Great Hall, Xavier College, Kew. (Donation welcome). Contact: Jesuit Theological College (03) 9341 5800, or Xavier College (03) 9854 5411.

His other Australian commitments are in Brisbane:

Sunday, May 14, 1.30 - 4.30pm: The Prophetic Voice of Religious Today. venue: Mercy Place, 371 Simpsons Rd, Bardon, QLD. contact: Br Ted Magee  (07) 3327 2203.

Thursday, May 18, 9am – 12.30pm: Social analysis workshop, Bringing Justice Alive from a Christian Perspective. venue: Mercy Centre, Bardon. cost: $20.  contact: Br Ted Magee 3327 2203.

Thursday, May 18, 7.30pm: Public lecture, The Church’s Social Teaching: Is it Charity or is it Justice? venue: Lecture Theatre at St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace. cost: donation. contact: Br Ted Magee 3327 2203.


Does Religion cause violence?  The struggle for peace 

Prominent US Catholic theologian William T. Cavanaugh will examine the myth that religion causes violence in a University of Melbourne International Public Lecture, next week. Dr Cavanaugh claims that the primary myth in academic circles, in the media, and for the man or the woman in the street, is that religion is inherently violent.  Religion is alleged to be absolutist, divisive and irrational.  Therefore, in order to keep the peace, the State must step in and privatise religion – often legitimating violence done in the name of secular, Western states and ideals.  In light of current world events, Dr Cavanaugh will re-imagine the stereotypes that have developed and will address the questions – Do religions really cause violence? How as a community can we build a culture of peace in a world dominated by a spiral of violence?

Dr Cavanaugh, from the University of St Paul-Minneapolis, was educated in theology and religion at Notre Dame, Cambridge, and Duke Universities. His dissertation for his doctorate at Duke, “Torture and Eucharist in Pinochet’s Chile”, drew on his experiences from living in Chile in the 1980s.  The dissertation became the highly-acclaimed book, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics and the Body of Christ, which reflects on the Church, the Eucharist and politics within the context of the Pinochet regime following the overthrow of Allende. It is now being produced in French-language and Spanish-language editions. A well-known writer on theology, the church and politics, his other books include Theopolitical Imagination: Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism and The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology edited with Peter Scott.

The lecture will be held in the Carillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, at the University of Melbourne, Parkville, from 6.30pm on May 18 (Thursday of next week).   Admission is free but bookings are essential:  (03) 8344 38885 or email community-relations@unimelb.edu.au


A church that won't be silenced! Dialogue in church. A church in dialogue.

Two respected Catholic Asian theologians will visit Australia around Pentecost for a series of lectures on inter-faith dialogue and women and migration issues as part of the New Pentecost Forum 2006.

Dr Edmund Chia, a Malaysian interreligious theologian, is an Assistant Professor of Doctrinal Theology at the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, and Dr Gemma Cruz is a feminist theologian from the Philippines whose work focuses on liberation ethics.

The visit will start in Melbourne from May 25 and climax in Sydney on Pentecost Sunday, June 4.  The Sydney forum also will include notable Australian speakers, Dr Paul Collins, an historian, broadcaster and writer; Ms Hind Kourouche, the first female President of the Arabic Welfare Council in Sydney and Director of the Islamic Resource Management; and  the Rev. Rod Pattenden, Uniting Church minister, artist and art historian.

The forum is part of a project to promote faith-based participation in public and political life as well as variety and inclusiveness within the church. The gatherings are around Pentecost, a day symbolic of dialogue and diversity.  The keynote speakers have been invited to inspire groups the church to understand, analyse and take action on pastoral, social and political issues, lest people become complicit by apathy.  That the gospel of Pentecost demands action is the focus of the New Pentecost Forum, a partnership of a dozen Christian justice and welfare groups.

Dr Chia has likened the forum to the momentous eighth plenary assembly of the Asian Bishops in South Korea in 2004, which was praised by the bishops and lay groups alike for its inclusiveness.

"I was involved in the organising of the South Korea plenary and I know I will be very comfortable speaking at the New Pentecost Forum. The participatory spirit of the forum, which places great emphasis on listening and allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire, is both a Christian and an 'Asian' way of organising," Dr Chia said.

A special aspect of the forum is the use of the "free space" method of organising where any groups or individuals can gather to discuss issues or plan action for a more just and caring society based on Gospel principles.

The Sydney New Pentecost Forum will be held on Pentecost Sunday, June 4 (all day, 10.30am - 7.30pm; or evening public lecture, 6 - 7.30pm).  cost: day $50/$10; public lecture $20/$5 (or what can be affored).  venue:  ACU North Sydney (40 Edward St). register: New Pentecost or phone (02) 9557 3197

Earlier, in Melbourne, an associated lecture, Religion: Does it Unite or Divide?, will feature Dr Chia and Australia’s Professor Des Cahill.  On Friday, May 26, Dr Chia will discuss religious diversity from an Asian perspective and Pro. Cahill will consider it from an Australian point of view. Dr Chia specialises in Asian theologies and interfaith dialogue at the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago.  He was secretary of inter-religious dialogue for the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences for eight years.  Pro. Cahill is Professor of Intercultural Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne. Since 2000 he has been the President of the Australian branch of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP).

The lecture will be held in the Mercy Lecture Theatre, ACU (115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy - off Young St) from 6-7.30pm.  A donation would be appreciated.


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