Unique ecumenical event
Unique ecumenical event
A unique event in the history of the Christian Churches in Australia will take place on Friday afternoon with the launch of the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction (AECSD).
The President of the National Council of Churches of Australia, Rev. James Haire, will officially launch the AECSD before Heads of Churches and Religious Congregations from around Australia and spiritual directors from a large number of associations and programmes.
The inaugural Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction will be commissioned during the launch. The Councillors, appointed from nominations across Australia, are Rev. Philip Carter (Anglican, Adelaide), Major Frank Daniels (Salvation Army, Melbourne), Rev Lynette Dungan (Uniting Church, Melbourne), Rev Brian Gallagher MSC (Catholic, Melbourne), Sr Anne Lane PBVM (Catholic, Sydney), Rev Jill Manton (Baptist, Melbourne), Mrs Ruth Morgan (Catholic, Sydney), Rev Robin Pryor (Uniting Church, Melbourne), Mrs Beth Roberton (Church of Christ, Perth), Sr Elaine Smith RSJ (Catholic, Brisbane), Rev Canon John Stewart (Anglican, Melbourne) and Rev Stephen Truscott SM (Catholic, Perth).
AECSD President, Rev. Philip Carter, said that it was fitting that the area of spirituality was a uniting force for Christians: “Early explorers called our country, the ‘southern land of the Holy Spirit’. If our country is to find its soul, we have to help each other to grow in the Spirit and to be attentive to God’s presence in every place and person.”
The launch, at 5pm in Trinity College, will be held as part of a spiritual directors’ conference, from June 30 –July 2, at the University of Melbourne.
Dr Haire will present the keynote address on the state of spirituality in Australia. Three well-known theologians will introduce themes to be taken up during workshop sessions by the conference. These speakers are Elaine Glass from Canberra, whose topic will be the Prophetic Dimension of Spiritual Direction, Denis Edwards from Adelaide (Discernment), and Linda Walter from Melbourne (Transformation in Spiritual Direction).
The Executive Officer of Spiritual Directors International, Liz Bud Ellman, from the United States, will be a participant, and groups from around the world have sent messages. The conference is the first time such an ecumenical gathering of spiritual directors has been held in Australia.
RIP Fr Morgan Howe, 1919-2006
“It is entirely appropriate that in this week of Pentecost we are celebrating the funeral of one of the truly charismatically gifted priests of this Archdiocese (of Brisbane). Fr Morgan Howe will live long in our memories not only because of his striking good looks and presence that faded only slightly with advancing years, nor because of his skill in teaching that remained to the very end, nor because of his pastoral skills that never left him, but most of all because of his passion for people on the margins of life and his life long support and advocacy of the Australian attitude of a ‘fair go’ for all, especially for the indigenous peoples of Australia…” (Funeral homily of Fr Morgan Howe, by Archbishop John Bathesby) (Tributes)
Broaden summit on violence: Bishop
The Government summit on violence and abuse in Indigenous communities must also consider the causes of that violence – endemic poverty, health problems and despair. Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, has called on the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs to ensure an opportunity will be taken during the summit to consider more than just the enforcement of law and order. The Bishop, who has worked with Aboriginal communities of the Kimberley for more than 30 years, says: “Experience shows that when we are dealing with third-world circumstances of poverty and neglect, more is needed than a law-and-order response to these issues.”
Australian widow returns to India
Seven years after her husband and two sons were massacred, Gladys Staines, an Australian woman, speaks about Christian hope, born of forgiveness. She is in Orissa to see how the leprosy home - her husband'sdream - is getting on. (report by Nirmala Carvalho for Asia News)
Commission calls for consistency in Australia’s dealings with Indonesia
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged the Prime Minister to consistently promote and defend human rights in his dealings with Indonesian authorities. (media release)
New independent schools report
The Australian Treasurer has launched a new report on Australia’s independent school sector that shows there has been a significant increase in the number of students enrolled at independent schools - from 9.7 per cent of the total student population in 1996 to 12.8 per cent in 2005. Launching the report on behalf of the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, Mr Costello said the Independent Schooling in Australia 2006-08 study by the Independent Schools Council of Australia provided a comprehensive overview of the sector. A copy of the report is available at the Independent Schools Council of Australia website under “what’s new”.
Ploughing their own furrow
The American Episcopal Church has elected a liberal woman bishop to be its leader – proof, if any were needed, that it will not fall into line with the rest of the Anglican Communion. Schism could well be the result. (report by Stephen Bates, in The Tablet) Meanwhile, dialogue with other Christian traditions should not be impacted negatively, according to ecumenical observers at the recently-ended General Convention. (Ekklesia)
G8 failing to make poverty history
A year after G8 leaders promised to make poverty history, little progress has been made on trade Catholic campaigners have said. G8 leaders met at Gleneagles one year ago facing calls from Make Poverty History campaigners for action on aid, debt, and trade to end poverty in the developing world. Although some progress was made on aid and debt, Catholic aid agency CAFOD said that G8 leaders failed to come up with reforms on trade, the most crucial of the three issues in the long-term. (Ekklesia)
"Great divide" seen in Muslim and Western opinions
WASHINGTON - A "great divide" separates the worldviews of Muslims and Westerners, according to the results of a major new survey which suggests that European Muslims, who held the most tolerant views, could be a bridge between the two groups.
"Many in the West see Muslims as fanatical, violent, and as lacking tolerance," according to an analysis of the survey by the Washington-based Pew Global Attitudes Project. "Muslims in the Middle East and Asia generally see Westerners as selfish, immoral and greedy -- as well as violent and fanatical."
But the survey also found that was less true among European Muslims. "In many ways, the views of Europe's Muslims represent a middle ground between the way Western publics and Muslims in the Middle East and Asia view each other," it said. (more details, by Jim Lobe)
VATICAN CITY (VIS) - The final document of the 12th plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, which was held in the Vatican from May 15 to 17 on the theme: Migration and Itinerancy from and towards Islamic majority Countries has been made available. The text has been published in various languages. (English-language extract)
Presbyterian Church (USA) votes to support legal access to medical marijuana
Birmingham, AL – The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the latest religious body to endorse legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. By consensus, the denomination passed a resolution “urging Federal legislation that allows for its use and that provides for the production and distribution of the plant for those purposes.”
The Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the Unitarian Universalist Association in support of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are already protected from arrest by state and local police in 11 states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Details of the denominations’ positions are available at the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative website.