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from: Brian Haill, 2 Nov

I was horrified to read (Cath News 2/11) that Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission decided to politicise its observance of All Souls Day by deciding that the Iraq conflict should be its sole focus today.

Like those the world over, and especially in a Catholic (universal) church, I had always understood All Souls to mean All Souls... never a given group, nation, continent or race.

Many throughout the world disagree with the invasion of Iraq, as over time, others have over the invasion and destruction of many nations throughout the ages.

But All Souls Day is sacrosanct - a day for all to remember all of the dead, however they may have died whether in national or personal conflict. (Such as a woman in Orissa, India, the other day, who was reportedly burnt alive because her husband had died of AIDS and those in her community perceived her as a threat to them.)

Separately and sadly, when we are driven by particular politics, the big picture is obscured, clouded.

Are the people blown to pieces in Israel overnight at the hands of a Palestinian suicide bomber any the less to be remembered...or those dying in their thousands in Sudan, a conflict itself billed by the UN as the humanitarian castrophe of the moment... as others who may be ignored today? Surely not.

Justice isn't served by injustice.

The Pope himself makes the appropriate comment today, offering special prayers for the victims of terrorism - for peace in the world... the whole world, not one bloodstained part of it.

In Cronin's Keys of the Kingdom a Belgian nun outraged by the European destruction caused by German bombing has her young class stand and sing the French national anthem.

The nun's Mother Superior, a German, quietly observes and then... for balance...has the children sing the German national anthem. Their despairing priest struggles with war on their own doorstep.

My prayer today is for one unfragmented world that has room for a host of opinions - yours and mine included.

from: AN OPEN LETTER from John Hill, 1 Nov

I am writing as a parishioner of St. Vincent's Church, Redfern, NSW. I write with a deep sense of sadness and a feeling of depression. I am seeing the disintegration or even worse, the destruction of a parish that for over 30 years has been a beacon of hope for social justice, the authentic Gospel teachings, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the rights of indigenous Australians.

The legacy of an ailing Fr Ted Kennedy has been decimated. The assurance that the Archbishop of Sydney made to Fr Kennedy on his retirement that his work would be respected and continued, has been broken. It has been torn asunder.

When at a Sunday mass you see a Neo Catecumenate acolyte who has subsequently been ordained, head-locking an elderly gentleman for not putting the host into his mouth immediately or when you see another senior gentleman pushed roughly aside by a young priest, it means that the Eucharist has lost its significance.

When you see a Neo Catecumenate priest telling off an elderly nun, once in charge of the formation of religious nuns and priests for many years, that she should look at herself in the mirror, it demonstrates not only the lack of respect for another but the sheer disregard for basic Christian values.

From the pulpit this same priest admonished a female parishioner telling her that she was in need of immediate psychological help. He then turned to her husband and told him how he pitied him for being married to her. She is in fact of sound mind, courteous and respectful of the priests. She has been a backbone of what is left of the parish.

The Sharing of the Meal for the poor operated by parishioners and friends every Tuesday and Friday has had its funds cut off by the archdiocese on the premise that this work was not necessary and that it could be done as well by other organisations. The fact is that this sharing of the meal caters to over a hundred people each Tuesday and Friday. The parishioners themselves now fund this project. The Redfern clergy have discouraged this work saying that Protestants and Atheists can do it better. At the same time they have alienated the Aboriginal community by breaking down the trust that has been 30 years in the making.

The litany of insults relentlessly perpetrated by this priest on many parishioners continues unabated with the implicit condonation by the Church authorities as nothing has been done to redress the situation in Redfern. Letters and petitions to Cardinal Pell sent by parishioners and concerned clergy about the deteriorating condition and the pain inflicted on the community at St. Vincent's have not been given due consideration to ease the concerns of the parishioners.

from: Paul Denny, Traralgon Vic 31 Oct

I commend your editorial in Issue 23 on ARC's call for greater accountability, and wish to make some observations about ownership of the church.

Many Catholics (including clerics) frequently make statements like "The church is calling us to..." Because the clerical ownership of the church is so endemic to Catholicism, the people who speak or write in this fashion are blind to the implications of what they have spoken or written. The very syntax of the sentence opposes "church" and "us". The disjunction between "church" and "us" is complete: we must be non-church. In such statements we literally exclude ourselves from the church.

To get myself out of the habit of speaking in this self-disempowering manner, I have made a conscious effort to first change my language, so that belief will eventually follow. Instead of "church", in the cases when I mean the whole church, I say "our church", or "the People of God", or "the Body of Christ". The context could help me decide which one. When I don't mean the whole church, I try to specify the part I mean: Pope, Bishop, Curia, Parish Priest, etc.

from: Brian Doyle, Portland USA, 26 October

a. sophie masson is terrific

b. it should be said, on the 40th anniversary of NCR, that the Catholic press not only in the States but worldwide has been (1) weak soup and (2) crucially excellent sometimes. I think for example of the Tablet in England and Commonweal in the US and Eureka Street in Oz. It puzzles me, as editor of a Catholic university magazine, why there are so few excellent Catholic magazines, in a world which has produced untold excellent Catholic storytellers -- Campion among them. And it seems to me that if there were more and more excellent periodicals we would have a far better tighter more electric church; the more voices the better, or as James Joyce said, here comes everybody.

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