Colours of the rainbow
The recent article by Stephanie Thomas (“The Rainbow Church", November 16) draws attention to the bishops’ national conference on the pastoral care of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
I work with refugees in Melbourne's West, but chose not to go to the conference. I felt it would be a waste of a lot of money, for little result.
The conference was supposed to be a culmination of a consultation around Australia earlier this year. I attended one such consultation held in St Albans Melbourne, attended by a large group of Vietnamese, a large group of Sudanese and other migrant/refugee communities. Sadly the local Bishop left before the feed-back time. The conference Stephanie refers to does not seem (on the published invitation) to make any response, recounting or discussion of that consultation.
The speakers (as listed) all seemed to be "outside" experts or politicians, with very few having a hands-on experience of refugees/migrants in a Church context.
I am disappointed that even in the specific conference on refugees and migrants, the "Rainbow Church" will again be de-colourised. We can and must do better than this.
Brother Sean McManus
Edmund Rice Refugee Services
St Albans, Victoria
I thought your feature on overseas born Catholics and mass attendance is worthy of appreciation. It indicates not only their attendance in Mass but their contribution to the local faith community.
On other hand an essay which appeared in CathNews recently on the wisdom of importing overseas-born priests by one of the Australia’s best theologians, Fr Richard Lennan, seems not at all aware for the changing reality of the Australian Church and the role of overseas born priests. Fr Lennan seems to find difficulty with importing priest but he has no solution to clergy shortage in Australia.
I am an overseas born priest and have been working in the diocese of Port Pirie for the last four years. I would invite Fr Lennan to stay with me for a while or inquire personally from the bishop of Port Pirie about my contribution to the local Church and to the diocese over the past four years. If he did either, I would like to see if he then approached the issue differently.
All is not bad with overseas priests. Certainly they have their limitations as the author rightly points out, but they also contribute towards building the kingdom of God here in Australia. May be their contribution is insignificant like the mustard seed. But that is what is asked of us by our Master. If Fr Lennan looked at Church as the kingdom of God and he would find that there is a place for all.
If Fr Lennan fears that overseas-born priests have destroyed or will destroy the Church in Australia, then it is a false fear. I know that I have touched or made a difference to the lives of so many people in Eyre Peninsula, SA.
Fr Shaji Joseph (Padikunnel)
Cummins, South Australia
Thy Kingdom go
Suddenly I feel less lonely (“A Republican on the Kingdom of God”, November 16)! In 1972 I wrote an article in the National Council of Priests Newsletter titled "Old Wine - New Wineskins?" It more than queried, among other things, the relevance of "King", "Kingdom" and similar words and images for a true apprehension of our God. In various publications since, including Online Catholics, I have pursued this subject of unfortunate language and imagery which misinforms and misdirects the faithful. Thank you, Terry Fewtrell, for positive affirmation.
Before going on, though, may I seek also to affirm you. If you choose to use "all-loving" instead of "almighty" your republic will prosper.
You say seeking this change is a daunting prospect. After 30 years I heartily agree! Your stratagem is to promote devotion to an expanded insight into the Feast of Pentecost as a republican and egalitarian revelation. I have already proposed a Feast of Jesus Christ our Friend for the Church in Australia. May the bishops be listening. Both proposals direct focus onto true theological insights which, if heeded, will see the erroneous monarchical archaicism dwindle in Christian memory.
Your article is not afraid of truth. To abandon literalness and its feudal practices could seem fearful. But you detect true humility in letting them go. I agree. Tugging the forelock and bending the knee do not dignify (much less deify) God. They reduce "him" to a human potentate. Let us now strive to free our God from the shackles we have given "him". One would hope that our salvation would depend on it, as on the truth. We will prosper as followers of Jesus when we let our God become simply God at last, without certain baneful accretions of history.
Tony Fewtrell's article on "Kings" and "Kingdom" in the Gospels, and the need to express religious truths in language which can be understood by people in the 21st century really struck a bell for me. Although as an older Australian I am not actually yearning for a republic, I will be quite happy when it arrives, but I have nevertheless long been uneasy with the expression of many key Christian concepts in language which means little or nothing to current generations in the Western world.
And, I may add, not for want of trying to get them across! "King" and "kingdom" in scripture have often made me wonder how earnest republicans in Europe and the Americas relate to the terms.
I can see they were relevant to Judaeans and Romans, but not to the Greeks. Equally we today can't change the translation where it really does mean "king". It would be totally wrong to say that Pilate wrote his inscription as "Jesus Christ President of the Jews". "Quad scripsi, scripsi" indeed!
Dr. Christine Wood.
Faith in IR reform
Can someone explain to me how the present federal Minister for Workplace Relations can be widely promoted as an exemplary Catholic leader? He was promoted in these terms when he and his wife spoke at a public forum at St Thomas More's parish in Campbell, ACT.
He is entitled to act as his conscience dictates, but the legislation that he has introduced into the Federal Parliament is not in accord with Catholic teaching as Bruce Duncan (“News”, November 16) and others have so well explained.
If Kevin Andrews lived in America would he be refused communion? It was proposed that some American Catholic politicians be refused communion because of the stand that they took about abortion law, not about abortion itself. Does not the right to life include certain values that are interfered with in the current legislation?
Fortunately for Kevin Andrews, most of our bishops are more sophisticated and compassionate in their thinking than some of their American colleagues.
I am also appalled at the unjust consequences of some of the Welfare to Work reforms for which Kevin Andrews is also responsible.
Surely as a practising Catholic, with a strong interest in social justice, I am entitled to an explanation as to why Kevin Andrews thinks that his actions are moral. Perhaps his actions are merely expedient. Expediency can sometimes be justifiable. However, again, because of his public position as a politician and a Catholic, I feel that I am entitled to have his reasons explained to me as a fellow Catholic.
Holy Mousepad (“Legionaries of Christ – shock of the future”, November 16) raises not only one, but a few alarm bells! We must prevent this situation at all cost! Please recommend to your readers the book Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II. It is written by two veteran Catholic journalists – Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. The second half of the book is all about Fr Marcial Maciel and his alleged unholy deeds. But he/his organisation also fill the Vatican coffers! It is a well documented and researched book, and illustrates how all attempts at accountability have been wiped under the carpet by the Vatican, and particularly by the former Cardinal Ratzinger.
Brain Haill's letter (November 16) about condoms and AIDS reminded me of a telling incident a few years ago when I was visiting AIDS centres in South Africa with an inter-denominational group from Australia.
There was one other Catholic in the group and the question came up about the use of condoms as one method of combating the AIDS crisis in this country. As it happened, the speaker was a representative of the Catholic bishops and the centre was also run by the Catholic Church.
We were given the official line that condoms were not permitted under any circumstances, even between married partners. When, however, we were being shown around the centre, I noticed a large container of condoms. I was intrigued how this could be on display so openly after the lecture we had just received.
When I asked how this could be reconciled with the "official" policy, the answer given was unequivocal: "Sometimes in this work we have to make a choice between life and death."
A flash of brilliance
The article “Schools filling: churches emptying” (Kevin Murphy, November 9) was brilliant. I feel that every school Principal, RE and perhaps every teacher should be given a copy and I hope to be the one that does that at my parish primary school.
Whilst I share Fr Crother's concern with censorship by any editor (Letters, November 16) – our local paper makes the same choices too - I would hate to think that any of us could assume to speak for a majority without some quantifiable evidence of others’ opinion and whether it was well informed.
Fr John Crothers letter reminded me of when I wrote a letter to the Catholic Weekly. “On Sunday I went to evening Mass at St Declan’s at Penshurst. Six o clock Mass, the Church was almost full, it was buzzing with activity. A wonderful choir, so many participating in the mass and the acolyte happened to be a woman. I came away with a warm feeling of love and hope and a sense of a parish that embraces the opportunity for all to serve.”
I rang the Catholic Weekly some weeks later to ask why my letter was not published. The then Editor asked me was I in favor of ordaining women priests. If I were, she would be under pressure not to print my letter. The ordination of women priests never crossed my mind when I wrote the letter, but to get it printed, I said no, I wasn’t in favor of them. So the letter was printed.
I felt we were an inclusive church under Cardinal Clancy, whereas now the feeling is one of alienation, censorship and lack of consultation. It is only by listening, sharing and having respect for other people’s views that we can truly call ourselves Christians.