Human rights heroes
Human rights heroes
SYDNEY: The Edmund Rice Centre has been short-listed for the community (organisation) award in this year’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (HREOC) Human Rights Award which will be announced and presented in Sydney tomorrow (Thursday, December 7). The awards recognise significant contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia by both individuals and organisations. A total of 141 entries were received. The categories are law, community (individual and organisation), arts-non fiction, print media, television and radio. The Human Rights Medal is also presented. A luncheon ceremony at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park Hotel will be held from noon. Media personality Julie McCrossin will MC the awards, and HREOC President John von Doussa QC will deliver the Human Rights Day address. Human Rights Day will be celebrated on December 10.
Caritas Australia responds to Typhoon Durian destruction
SYDNEY: Caritas Australia is accepting donations to assist those affected by Typhoon Durian. Caritas Australia has a number of established partners near the disaster areas. The typhoon caused rivers of mud and volcanic ash to flow into central Philippine villages near Mayon volcano, burying houses and blocking transportation routes. Flash flooding is also a problem. The situation is feared worse than current reports and Caritas will continue to assess the situation. Donations can be made on 1800 024 413.
Peace prize winner attacks Bush administration
COLOGNE: Controversial Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng has launched a broadside against the US government, saying it has lost its moral credibility.
Küng made his comments after receiving the Lev Kopelev peace prize in the German city of Cologne for his work promoting better relations between religions.
Küng, who has been at odds with the Vatican for years, was awarded the prize for his "tireless work to help improve understanding between the world's great religions". The jury cited the 78-year-old theologian's efforts to help set up the Global Ethic Foundation, based on the idea that there can be "no peace among the nations without peace among the religions."
Küng, who lives in Tübingen, spoke his mind as usual at the ceremony. He took the opportunity to criticise President Bush, calling his administration's policies "inconsiderate, neo-imperialistic, in search of power and prestige". He said that Bush liked to present himself as a Christian, but that the truth was that the American leader's attempts to grab more power showed contempt for one's fellow men. Küng added that aggressive war tactics, mishandling of prisoners of war and civilians and contravening human rights were all part of this. For the theologian, the United States has lost all moral credibility even among its friends and allies.
During the ceremony, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy:Rey hailed Küng as the kind of intellectual who was prepared to put his nose in public affairs. She added that it was important, as the theologian proposed, to highlight the common ground between religions and to promote it, and not point out the differences. Rather than build barriers, she said, there should be respect on all sides. "When a cashier wears a head scarf, we shouldn't focus on symbolic or formal aspects," she warned. "I remember that for my Catholic grandmother it was perfectly natural to wear such a scarf."
The award, which carries no prize money, was set up in memory of Russian writer Lev Kopelev, who died in 1997. Previous winners include Palestinian political specialist Sari Nusseibeh and Israeli editorialist Uri Avnery in 2003, and Chechen human rights activist Sainap Gachayeva last year.
From the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference …
SYDNEY: The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has called for David Hicks, as an Australian citizen, to be given a prompt and just trial or returned to Australia. “If Mr Hicks has a case to answer he should be tried without further delay by a competent and independent tribunal with protections of the rule of law that all Australians would expect. A continuation of the current situation is not acceptable.” (statement)
SYDNEY: The Catholic Bishops of Australia have issued a pastoral letter is relation to the drought: “… We stand in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters who in any way are suffering because of this unrelenting drought… We have prayed for you here and you will be in our prayers from day to day through this difficult time. We ask all Catholic people to join us in praying for rain and for those suffering the effects of drought.” (pastoral letter)
Faithful must be equipped to live their faith
SYDNEY: The faithful must be prepared and equipped to live their faith by the provision of sound education in both schools and in adult life, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli said when he focused on the value of education in his speech during the opening session of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference plenary meeting in Sydney. (statement)
First official visit of Archbishop Christodoulos to Pope
VATICAN CITY (VIS): His Beatitude Christodoulos, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, will visit the Holy Father and the Church of Rome from December 13 to 16. Although the archbishop was in Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, this will be the first time that the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church has made an official visit to the Pope and to the Church of Rome.
Pope Benedict will receive His Beatitude Christodoulos and his entourage on the morning of December 14. At a ceremony in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the archbishop of Athens and of all Greece will be given part of a chain - kept in that basilica - with which St. Paul was held prisoner. Later, Rome's Pontifical Lateran University will confer an 'honoris causa' degree upon him.
In his 2001 pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul, John Paul II visited the Areopagus of Athens where he signed a joint declaration with His Beatitude Christodoulos, and was received by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece. In subsequent years, visits have been exchanged between delegations from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece and from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Theologians to discuss cruelty
LAUSANNE: What does cruelty have to do with theology? Twenty-five theologians from around the world will gather from December 5-8 in Crêt-Bérard (near Lausanne, Switzerland), to discuss why and to what extent cruelty can be considered as a new theme for theological reflection.
The treatment of political detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo, Lebanon caught between Hezbollah and Israel, current and past genocides, atrocities against the Dalits, the use of rape as a war weapon, various forms of terrorism and counter-terrorism, torture, xenophobia and racism, domestic violence - all are instances where cruelty shows its ugly face.
The gathering of theologians will address the issue of cruelty beyond its common portrayal as a mere behavioural trait - a perspective which relegates it to the realm of psychology. They will focus on the often ignored fact that cultures, traditions as well as social, economical and political structures have themselves been cruel, as well as creating an ethos that "enables" people to become cruel. Twelve case studies from different contexts and perspectives will provide the basis for theological debate. The studies are about terrorism and counter-terrorism, torture, genocide, apartheid, racism, rape used as weapon, sex trafficking, military occupation, casteism, and violence against women.
The consultation "A theological reflection on cruelty, the ugly face of violence" is part of World Council of Churches Faith and Order work to facilitate theological reflection on peace within the context of its Decade to Overcome Violence.
Santa gets the sack
BERLIN: From the heart of secular Europe moves are afoot to ban Santa and to restore the traditional meaning of Christmas. An Austrian group, Pro-Christkind (For the Christ Child), want images of baby Jesus and St Nicholas to replace the portly old man in red and white who presides over the commercialism of Christmas. Their campaign, with a logo featuring a picture of Santa with a red line through him, began on Saturday when, traditionally, Advent wreaths are made.
Thousands of Santa-Free Zone stickers have been printed and pamphlets handed out reminding people that the traditional bringer of presents is St Nicholas. There are even kits on sale with stickers to turn chocolate Santas into St Nicholas. An internet campaign is urging people in Switzerland, Germany and Austria to sign up to promote activities that support a traditional Christmas. (Family Edge and The Scotsman)