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The Editor reserves the right to shorten letters for length or clarity.


From Gabe Lomas, 2 March 2005

Your report on Forceten's fate makes alarming reading.

You say:
Jack de Groot writes that Caritas 'suggests the following concept of purchase (of the name ForceTen) over time.' There follows a table which outlines a series of payments by the aid partner, Christian World Service to Caritas over 10 years to a total of $420,659.65.

Later you record that:
Mr de Groot specifically denied that any specific payment proposal had been discussed.

It's noteworthy that de Groot's reported denial is about discussing a payment proposal. Should not your reporter have pointed out to him that the issue is his written payment proposal itself, not whether he has been involved in a discussion about it? Is de Groot being 'cunning as a serpent'?

And it's sad to read the report that James Michin:
believes that the impending demise of ForceTen is not just the fault of Caritas, but also of elements inside the ecumenical movement who see ecumenism as a 'wishy washy compromise' to faith.

Let's read 'elements' as 'human beings', 'persons'.

What persons are at work to terminate the existence of such a potent force for social justice in this part of the globe?

Whatever further truths come to light, this report indicates how commercial interests can paralyze social justice. The Catholic hierarchy in Australia has long been lurching down the road of economic rationalism, a road that leads away from generosity and charity. For Caritas to demand any payment at all from the CWS for continuing the good work it does under the name of Forceten is shameful.

It's embarrassing to have been a supporter of Caritas in the past, given the way it's reportedly behaving now.

From Francis Brown, 2 March

I am appalled to have it publicly stated that Catholic Church agencies are, or are considering, tying aid to those in need to evangelization. I have in my heart that Jesus would be regarding such practice as abandonment of his principle of unconditional love. Aid with conditions is not love.

I worked as a missionary to bring the faith to people whose religious practices were thought to deprive them of the freedom of the children of God and leave them in the ignorance of darkness. I lived amongst the people, trying to live out a life based on Jesus' teaching and on the laws of the Church and attracting the people to see I had something to offer.

In being a missionary I was confronted with dealing with the multitude of needs of a deprived population. As infants and adults faced a high mortality rate, I had to become a doctor to them. Warlike behaviour amongst neighboring villages had me become a conciliator. The most successful means of that was to bring the children of opposing tribes together for schooling so I had to become a teacher. The adults wanted to improve their standard of living so I had to become a co-operatives and business advisor.

Communication was desired as a means of development so I had to become an engineer to design and help the people build roads and an air-strip. The hours I spent in such aid were far in excess of the hours devoted to actual teaching of the faith to those interested and to administering to converts. Nobody was deprived of physical help if they were not drawn to my way of life or chose to live in "sin" as some sections of Christianity inexcusably use as a basis of refusing aid.

The love that Jesus lived extended to all. He came that we (and all the deprived members of humanity) may have life and have it to the fullest. If I am to follow Jesus, I share my bread with the hungry whether they follow my teachings fully, in part or not at all.

From Bill Byrne (former National Director ACR), 2 March

I write with considerable sadness following your article about the decision by Caritas to withdraw from Force Ten.

Force Ten was a very successful ecumenical venture. The decision of the Australian Bishops to join with the Council of Churches came after lengthy discussion.

All members of the (then) Australian Catholic Relief (ACR) National Committee saw the advantages of joining with Christian World Action to offer the opportunity for people to make a regular commitment to development projects, as well as contributing through the Lenten Project Compassion Appeal.

The opportunity to join in a program of "practical ecumenism" was also seen as a major plus. Additionally Force Ten gave the sponsors the chance to educate contributors each month on the situation and needs of different countries and the efforts that communities in those countries were making towards their own progress. With its stress on development, it gave the churches a vehicle to involve people in positive, ongoing activities.

At that time the only regular giving programs being offered were child sponsorship schemes which stressed individual cases rather than community effort.

As National Director of ACR I was deeply involved in these discussions, and felt a great sense of elation as the scheme took off and developed. The later addition of the Simply Caring program each year further enriched it.

I do not want to enter into the pros and cons of the issue of CWS continuing to use the Force Ten name. My sorrow is at the closing down of a successful ecumenical venture. We need more efforts to continue the positive attitude towards ecumenical action launched by Vatican ll, not less.

My wife and I are current Force Ten contributors and have heard nothing about plans for closing it down. I am sure that a survey of present members would reveal overwhelming support for continuing it.


From Mike Yates, 3 March

I want to thank you for Julian's article. It was fantastic. What a pity he can't come around to Catholic parishes and talk about what he knows!! We so badly need to see we have to be involved! I am going to use the article in a Year 10 Scripture lesson when we talk about "God's anger" (which we should be expressing). Unfortunately, if I read us correctly, we still think (wrongly) that God is angry bec " I don't always say my morning prayers or said something unkind about the lady next door"!!.

From Jim Taverne 2 March

I am impressed by Julian Burnside's comment in Online Catholics 41 and I hope it will be read by many and quoted and reprinted and talked about and followed up.

The newspeak, the evasions, the lies, all that dishonesty seem to come so naturally to our present Prime Minister and his sycophantic "colleagues". They don't seem to suffer from any hesitations.

When 200,000 Australians walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Say Sorry Sunday, Howard reacted with: "millions did not walk over the bridge and they are the majority".

When 10,000 Sydneysiders attend a rally against the refugee policy of our Government, there are millions of Sydneysiders who do not participate in the rally, therefore these millions agree with the Government.

Some 25 years ago, when John Howard was Treasurer, our Company Secretary and I had to visit the Treasury Building in Canberra frequently. In the corridor towards the chief of Foreign Investments was a door not with the name of the dignitary behind it but with a large sign "Interrogation Room". We always stopped in front of it to listen to sounds of interrogations in progress.


From Sheelah Egan, 4 March

Free market ideology has given us Alan Bond, Christopher Skase, John Eliot and others of their kind. It has contributed to the Macquarie Fields riots, high personal and national debt and exploitation of workers and consumers.

Even Robert Sirico' s idiosyncratic analysis of Rerum Novarum cannot convince me that Leo XIII was promoting a completely free market any more than he was supporting a materialistic socialism.

Through the Eucharist we live in God and God lives in us. We rise with the risen Christ to be Christ to each other and to live in a community in which we depend on each other.

Community intervention in the economic and social spheres, through the actions of a democratically elected government employing community participatory processes, can promote the common good and can reflect the transforming power of the Eucharist.

Appropriate support for vulnerable people in our community is an imperative not an option. It needs to be properly organised and delivered in a way that respects the diginity of each human being and without prejudice. Charity, left at the level of the individual can be very selective. It can be demeaning for the recepient and merely a form of self-aggrandizement for the giver.


From Anthony P Millar, 4 March

Ann Long states that I offered no solution to the problem of lack of laity. To do a full review would take several issues but I would suggest that the first thing to do is to TRY and increase the awareness of this problem among the laity and clergy in that order. My experience with the clergy is that letters are ignored or specious replies are given such as the one I received from our Archbishop. I was told he had special responsibility for the task of increasing the laity. That was 2 years ago and to date nothing has happened.


From Frank O'Dea sss, 28 February

I would like to respond to Kevin Murphy's article, `Is the Eucharist Working?'

The Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers, well known at St Francis in Melbourne and St Peter Julian's in Sydney, sponsor teams of trained laity to provide seminars called Life In The Eucharist (LITE) seminars. One of the themes of these seminars is Eucharist as Transformation. The seminar suggests that participants offer themselves to be transformed along with the bread and wine which is transformed into a presence of the risen Christ during the Eucharist. As the bread and wine are presented to the Father at the preparation of gifts, we can consciously and deliberately present ourselves for transformation at that time.

We knead our physical selves into the dough of the bread, we pour our emotional and spiritual selves into the cup. I use this theme frequently for my homilies and counselling and it is well received.

This is in line with Vatican II which said `The sharing in the body and blood of Christ has no other effect than to transform us into that which we receive'.

The other themes of the LITE seminars are nourishment, reconciliation, abiding presence and liberation. We have these teams operating in Melbourne, Sydney and Toowoomba. I am the national director of LITE in Australia, and if anyone wants more information about the seminars I would be pleased to help them if they contact me on this email address.


From Maryrose Dennehy FCJ,

As I am now able to read EVERYTHING, I wanted to write and thank you for the publication. Online Catholics is now one of my most important sources of information about the catholic Church in Australia. I have been living and working in Yogyakarta, Indonesia now for over seven years, this is important for me. I appreciate the breadth and quality of the articles, as also. the publishing of many different opinions.

Thank you and many blessings on all involved in the publication.

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