We encourage parishioners to inform us of news items on issues of peace and justice.
National Catholic Reporter has this discussion of how Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum constitutes a compelling climate crisis apologia.
On the feast of St Francis of Assisi 4 October 2023, Pope Francis has issued a new Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum, an update to his 2015 Encyclical Letter Laudato si’.
Vatican News on 21 July 2023 reported the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales strong reaction to the UK Government’s Illegal Migration Bill. Bishop Paul McAleenan, head of the Migrants and Refugees department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, reiterated their strong reservations on the provision saying that it “stands at odds with the teaching of the Church on welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating refugees”. “Refugees are human beings made in the image and likeness of God, not a political problem to be solved”, he said. “We must never make recognition of people’s dignity dependent upon where they come from or how they reach our country”.
The 3 May 2023 issue of Commonweal magazine has this article Francis is a revolutionary in which the writer quotes Francis as advising him: “Take risks! Be courageous!”
In February 2023 Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim introduced a Bill, the Migration Amendment (Evacuation to Safety) Bill 2023 to evacuate the remaining 150 asylum seekers from Nauru and PNG. JRS Australia strongly supported this bill in their submission. The full text of the JRS Australia submission can be read here. The Bill was debated by Federal Parliament on 8 March 2023 and voted down.
On 21 February 2023 Pax Christi International issued this statement on the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, expressing their deep concern for countless victims of a war that has led to death, injury, displacement, trauma, and ecological harm, and quoting from Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti:
Let us look once more at all those civilians whose killing was considered “collateral damage”.
The Catholic bishops of Oceania met over February 5-10 2023 in Fiji for prayer and reflection on the issues facing their region. They issued this concluding statement on embracing the teaching of Laudato si’ and the challenge of integral ecology.
Earthbeat, in its 5 January 2023 article “The first green pope: How Benedict’s eco-theology paved the way for Francis” , commemorated the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XV1. The commemorative article, with its dramatic photograph of a 2400 solar panel array that Benedict installed at the Vatican, references an earlier article in National Catholic Reporter that reported his message for the World Day of Peace 1 January 2010, stating that Benedict’s title was “If you want to cultivate peace, take care of creation” – a deliberate play on Paul VI’s famous injunction, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
For the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2023, Pope Francis has issued a message in which he calls on all those in positions of responsibility and on all men and women of goodwill “to revisit the issue of ensuring public health for all“; to “promote actions that enhance peace and put an end to the conflicts and wars that continue to spawn poverty and death“; “to join in caring for our common home and in implementing clear and effective measures to combat climate change“; “to battle the virus of inequality and to ensure food and dignified labour for all, supporting those who lack even a minimum wage and find themselves in great difficulty.”
In a meeting in Rome on 29 June 2022, Pope Francis said: ” But we also need to experience conversion, and to recognize that armed conquest, expansionism and imperialism have nothing to do with the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.”
He stressed these tendencies have “nothing to do with the Risen Lord, Who in Gethsemane told His disciples to reject violence, to put the sword back in its place, since those who live by the sword will die by the sword, and Who, cutting short every objection, simply said: ‘Enough!’“
For Earth Day, April 22 2022, Vatican News quotes Cardinal Czerny, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development :
“Pope Francis,” Cardinal Czerny observes, “has called us to pay attention to the environment, from practically the beginning of his pontificate and especially in his Laudato si‘,” the first ever encyclical by a Pope dedicated to the environment.
“But to answer your question as to why it is so important to the Pope, ” he points out, “it is when we read the encyclical Fratelli tutti, we realize the profound importance that it is a single vocation to be siblings to one another, and to take care of our Common Home.”
Vatican News has a report on 4 March 2022 from a Ukrainian journalist describing the effects of the war and warning of the catastrophic consequences of a possible nuclear explosion, that could be triggered by the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.
For Ash Wednesday March 2 2022, Pope Francis invited everyone to join in a Day of Fasting and Prayer for peace, saying “War is madness“, and pleading again to “Put down your weapons!“
On 4 February 2022, to mark the second International Day of Human Fraternity Pope Francis recorded this video message in which he said all people, regardless of religion or creed, are called to promote a “culture of peace” that welcomes all, while encouraging development and solidarity. The Pope repeated the affirmation that “we all live under the same heaven” and that we are all God’s children, no matter the colour of our skin or social class.
For 26 September 2021, 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021, Pope Francis has issued this message on the theme Towards An Ever Wider “We”.
Frank Brennan SJ delivered this homily for the day, suggesting how we in Australia might take up the challenge from Pope Francis and focus on our response to the people of Afghanistan.
Jesuit Refugee Service has issued this urgent plea for all of us to contact our Federal Member of Parliament with these concrete requests for specific actions by our Government.
In a June 2021 article in Eureka Street, Afghan refugee Hava Rezaie eloquently describes campaigning for Afghan women’s rights, which she has carried out in Afghanistan, Iran, and now in Australia.
In a December 2020 article, Remember those in permanent quarantine, Eureka Street draws attention to the fact that around 200 asylum seekers are being held in indefinite quarantine in Australia. The article says: “Meanwhile, ordinary Australians have put the Federal Government to shame over its intransigence on the fate of these people. They have funded a scheme, currently at $73,000, that allows Canadians to sponsor detainees from Manus and Nauru to resettle in Canada.”
Perhaps these Australians are acting on Pope Francis’ exhortation (see below) in paragraph 78 of Fratelli tutti.
In the 2 December issue of Commonweal Magazine, William Cavanaugh’s article Radical Truths presents an insightful analysis of Fratelli tutti:
What is needed is a more patient and grassroots process of “interpersonal encounters” (48) among people who live and think differently: “The process of building fraternity, be it local or universal, can only be undertaken by spirits that are free and open to authentic encounters” (50). ………… Francis […] returns the focus to personal interactions at the local level. In drawing conclusions from the parable of the Good Samaritan, Francis writes, “We should not expect everything from those who govern us, for that would be childish. We have the space we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting into place new processes and changes” (77). “Others,” Francis remarks, “may continue to view politics or the economy as an arena for their own power plays” (77). But we “can start from below and, case by case, act at the most concrete and local levels, and then expand to the farthest reaches of our countries and our world, with the same care and concern that the Samaritan showed for each of the wounded man’s injuries” (78).
To mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 27 September 2020, Nangami, JRS, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s Justice and Peace office organised a webinar “A Time for Grace”. Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen OFM Conv gave the opening address and he was followed by Father Frank Brennan SJ who gave this address.
In July Catholic Leader magazine had this article reporting of a Brisbane priest speaking out against plans to remove mobile phones from refugees and asylum seekers in detention.
In June, Eureka Street ran this article on how important it is that asylum seekers have access to mobile phones. Parliament was again debating a new Government bill on this issue. A speech by the Federal Member for Warringah and a speech by the Federal Member for Indi discuss this issue in detail. Senator Jacqui Lambie asked the public to respond to her here so she could make an informed vote.
On May 6 2020 the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney joined with 185 organisations around the country in calling on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to urgently address the gaps in the current COVID-19 responses and ensure that nobody is left behind, particularly people seeking asylum, refugees and other vulnerable groups
On 7 April 2020, a broad group of Australian Catholic organisations released a letter urging the Prime Minister to extend emergency COVID-19 support to asylum seekers and migrants on temporary visas.
At the Good Friday liturgy in the Vatican, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, gave the homily, as is traditional, saying:
“Returning to the way things were is the ‘recession’ we should fear the most,” he said. “Let us devote the unlimited resources committed to weapons to the goals that we now realize are most necessary and urgent: health, hygiene, food, the fight against poverty, stewardship of creation. Let us leave to the next generation a world poorer in goods and money, if need be, but richer in its humanity.”
Vatican News reports on a workshop: “New Forms of Solidarity”, held on 5 February at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Poverty can be overcome, said Pope Francis, if an economic system is put in place that includes, feeds, cures, and dresses those left behind by society. “We have to choose what and who to prioritize,” he said. Our choice will lead either to increased social injustice and violence, or to “humanizing socio-economic systems”.
Commonweal Magazine has this article Vatican Diplomacy and the Iraq War: Unheeded Warnings on Pope John Paul II’s deeply held objections to the Iraq war, made explicit in the release in December 2019 of the letter from Pope John Paul II hand-delivered on Ash Wednesday 2003 to U.S. President George W. Bush.
America Magazine has this article on the Catholic Church teaching on war.
Is his annual Christmas Day message, Pope Francis prayed for peace in areas around the world with on-going conflicts, naming them, and asked God to sustain and protect those who are forced to emigrate in the hope of a secure life, saying:
“It is injustice that makes them cross deserts and seas that become cemeteries. It is injustice that forces them to endure unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps. It is injustice that turns them away from places where they might have hope for a dignified life, but instead find themselves before walls of indifference. “
In a visit to Nagasaki on 24 November 2019, Pope Francis said:
“In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying out to heaven.”
America Magazine has this report of his visit.
During the first week of November 2019, the Society of Jesus held an international congress in Rome to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat. In a session moderated by Julie Edwards, CEO of Jesuit Social Services, Australia, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Millennium Project stressed that in a world marked by huge imbalances between rich and poor countries, a redistribution of professionally managed resources could restore justice and prevent illiteracy and disease, but also prevent the death of five million children a year in the most underdeveloped areas of the planet, stating “The problem is not the lack of resources, but the wrong political decisions,”
Eureka Street has this article on the response by our politicians to non-violent actions in Australia to address the climate change emergency, drawing a comparison to the civil rights movement in the US.
The Ignation Solidarity Network has a blog post of the speech given by a student at (Aloysius) Gonzaga College in Washington DC at the Global Climate Strike on 20 September in the US. Here, students from Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, and from St Leo’s Catholic College, who joined in our Action for the Climate Emergency Forum (see the Events page) were equally passionate, committed and articulate in their speeches for this cause.
On September 4 2019, as this article in Crux reports, Cardinal Joseph Tobin in the US joined in a non-violent action against immigration detention, carried out by 400 Catholics, saying:
“I am Joseph, your brother, who has been heartbroken by the inhumanity,” as he called for a stop to immigration detention of children and their families in the US.
In his homily for Refugee and Migrant Sunday August 25 2019, Father Frank Brennan said:
After the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, Pope Francis took up the observations of the Pre-Synodal Meeting repeating in Christus Vivit: ‘In some host countries, migration causes fear and alarm, often fomented and exploited for political ends. This can lead to a xenophobic mentality, as people close in on themselves, and this needs to be addressed decisively’. We Australians can’t just think that he was referring to anyone but us. He had us in mind, just as he had in mind all those from wealthy secure countries who have closed their doors too firmly on those suffering greatly.
Read the full homily on Page 20-21 of the kit from the Australian Catholic Refugee and Migrant Office.
Commonweal Magazine in its August 12 2019 edition has an article titled The Criminalization of Journalism? which discusses recent events impacting freedom of the press in Australia, including reporting on asylum seekers being detained offshore.
On June 27 2019 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said:
“The cry of a father and his baby daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande reaches heaven itself.
“This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics.”
in their statement quoted here on the Ignation Solidarity Network .
In 2016 Pope Francis visited the Greek island of Lesvos and met with refugees in the Moria refugee camp. On June 26 2019 Pax Christi International, the International Catholic Peace Movement presented its Peace Prize for 2019 to the organization European Lawyers in Lesvos. Watch this speech from Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International.
Eureka Street, the Australian Jesuits’ publication, has this article Separating refugee policy from politics.
Sister Susan Connelly is presenting a short course Unmasking Violence – Reimagining the Gospel with René Girard over four Wednesday mornings starting June 12.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph held a session on Rene Girard’s insights and movie afternoon on Sunday June 2 at the Grail in North Sydney. See this background page on the series.
Perhaps May’s most uplifting story was of a Cardinal in the Vatican climbing down a manhole to (illegally) restore power for homeless people. As the Cardinal asked, “Why are children in this situation?”
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has called for an increase in the minimum wage , arguing that neither employers nor governments are doing enough to support low-paid Australians, and particularly Australian families.
In February 2018 Eureka Street had this article on the moral indefensibility of Australia’s desire to become a major arms exporter. Later in the year, America, the U.S. Jesuit review magazine, asked readers to consider their regard for the sanctity of life in Yemen in view of U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Likewise Commonweal magazine referred to what it described as the lethal hypocrisy of U.S. government policy in this area. Consequently, it is distressing to read this recent ABC report of Australian arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Eureka Street has this article on the politics of asylum-seeking children.
America magazine has this article on the refugee situation in Syria, which offers insights from an Indian Jesuit on what refugees desire.
Médecins Sans Frontières is urging the public to sign this petition to evacuate asylum-seekers and refugees from Nauru , with a video from one of its members Dr Christine Rufener who has worked on Nauru.
The Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative seeks to engage Australians in a refugee sponsorship program similar to one that has been operating in Canada for a considerable period of time.
On October 14 2018 Pope Francis canonized murdered El Salvador archbishop Oscar Romero, for his courageous defence of human rights for the poor. The Canadian Archdiocese of Toronto has named its haven for refugees in honour of Romero, and, during the week of the canonization, posted this blog on Romero House which has much to offer us in our conversation on how we can help asylum seekers.
Closer to home, this group in Victoria Befriend a Child in Detention has for some time been running a community project committed to seeing an end to the detention of child asylum seekers.