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Peace and Social Justice

National Lament for asylum seekers

melbourne 23-02-14

National Lament for Asylum Seekers.

When Pope Francis visited Lampedusa, an Italian island where many refugees arrive and many die trying to reach safety, he said that "we are a society that has forgotten how to weep."

Catholic religious orders in Australia are inviting all Australians to participate in a “National Lament”. It is a campaign of prayer, penance and action for people seeking asylum in Australia. Archbishop Roger Herft of the Anglican Diocese of Perth has commended this campaign to the Diocese of Perth and the wider church. He writes:

"Many people throughout Australia are disturbed by the punitive and harsh policies and conditions to which people seeking asylum in Australia are being subjected. The recent incident on Manus Island and the death of one person and the injury of many highlights the lack of care and dignity in the policies of both the Government and the Opposition and the absence of awareness of their legal and moral responsibilities. We want to make a Christian response to refugees, not seeing them as a problem to be solved."

The National Lament will have two parts:

  • Part 1: Engaging in prayer, penance and action for people seeking asylum in Australia:
    • Making Friday in Lent a day of prayer and penance for people seeking asylum
    • Continuing this practice after Lent through to the Ascension
    • Writing to one’s local Federal member and to the Minister, Scott Morrison, expressing our lament for people seeking asylum in Australia
  • Part 2: Engaging in a Week of Prayer and Prophetic Presence during Ascension to Pentecost, 1 – 8 June 2014

Resources for National Lament :
Our own Wellspring Book Spirit of Community
Catholic Religious Order Australia
Resources from the Anglican Diocese of Perth

ENDS

I commend this initiative to all members of the Wellspring Community in Australia.
Local Wellspring Groups are welcome to add to this article, or add a new one with any other resources, or to contact the webmaster/administrator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The photo on the left was taken at the Melbourne vigil held in cities nationwide organised by Get Up! on 23 February 2014

Alex Scutt - Webmaster

Exciting Christian Refugee Project in WA

Interesting article in the Australian Financial Review on an interview with Jarrod McKenna, Christian activist from Western Australia.

Christian Faith and Evolution

Ham On Nye Pre-Debate Interview: Dr. Kenneth Miller

(As we approach the debate, Geek Goes Rogue will continue to post interviews and editorials. In this particular interview, a man we’ve long admired, Dr. Kenneth Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown University, author and committed Catholic. Along with Francis Collins, he’s been on the forefront of teaching that you can be Christian and accept evolution. Here, he gives a short interview on all the issues that the upcoming debate brings up and what it will mean to the debate . And, hey, he’s been on the Colbert Report so, he really can’t get much cooler.) 

Why do you think the issue of evolution versus creationism still stirs so much controversy? 

There are several reasons for this.  The first is that evolution concerns where we came from, and therefore who and what we are. It speaks to our self-image and how we should regard ourselves in the world of life. This is actually the principal subject of a book I am working on right now.

Religious opposition to evolution is related to this first reason, but it is particularly intense for many people. For those who fail to understand the allegorical nature of ancient scriptures, the modern understanding of earth’s natural history is a direct challenge to the authority of those scriptures. As a result, many religious communities have been brought up with the belief that to accept the scientific evidence for evolution is to put one’s immortal soul at risk. Given that fear, it has become all too easy for many religious groups to see science itself as their enemy and to reject reason itself.

Finally, the current political climate in America, unfortunately, has become one in which science itself has become politicized. This makes it all too easy for many people to see evolution as a liberal or left-wing political opinion, rather than the result of scientific inquiry.

Why do so many Americans oppose the teaching of evolution and how can that problem be solved? 

I’ve already addressed that in my first answer, but along those lines it’s worth noting that in the last two presidential election campaigns several candidates in the primary elections openly declared that they rejected evolution. While I have no doubt that they were sincere in their rejection, it’s cleo clear that they felt that for their political constituencies, this was a popular view that might help them win votes. That’s very disappointing.

I’m an eternal optimist, and I think that the solution to this is clear. Better science education, formal and informal, is the solution. The most recent Pew survey showed that acceptance of evolution is strongest among the young, which tells me that the efforts we have made in the past 20 years to improve science education in our schools are beginning to pay off.  We need more of that, and we need to develop a genuine passion for science as a culture.

How does your own Catholicism help your scientific pursuits? Do they help or hinder them?

Well, my faith certainly doesn’t give me a short cut to doing science, if that’s what you mean. Thomas Aquinas noted that faith and reason are both gifts from God, and science requires both. All scientists apply reason to drive their use of the scientific method, and likewise all scientists have a faith that the universe is rational and intelligible. I feel that my own religious faith justifies the pursuit of rational science, and gives me a reason to regard the scientific enterprise as one of our highest callings as a species.

Do you think the upcoming Ham/Nye debate will help or hurt the ongoing conversation about Science and Faith? 

I doubt it will help very much. Ken Ham has devoted millions of dollars at his Creation Museum into misleading his visitors as to the history of life on earth, and he is very practiced at this deception.  As much as I admire Bill Nye, unless he has carefully studied each of the misleading arguments that creationists like Ham put forward to argue against evolution, he’s going to be at a disadvantage. It’s important to remember as well that Ham has already won enormous publicity just from the scheduling of such a debate, and all he has to do is to look like his ideas might be a “reasonable” alternative to evolution to achieve his goals.  Mr. Nye’s professional training is in engineering and the physical sciences, not biology.  Nonetheless, I am sure that Ham will pretend that he is a spokesman for the state of the art in the biological sciences, and if Ham is able to baffle him with a handful of scientific-sounding arguments based in biology, Ham will be able to declare victory.

What can Christians who are convinced of God’s use of evolution do to help encourage positive conversation? 

I think the most basic point we can make is that science itself grew out of the western Christian tradition. The great scholars of our faith, including Augustine and Aquinas, were clear about the need for faith to be rational and to incorporate, not resist, the findings of what we call science today.  Christianity subverts its own heritage by placing itself in opposition to science, and we should regard scientific knowledge not as a threat, but as a gift that plays an important role in bringing us closer to God.

Finding Darwin’s God – A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution published by HarperCollins
Buy the book from amazon.com

Visit the Geek goes Rogue blog

Moral Issues and the Gospel

Here is a challenging statement from Pope Francis on the need for mercy rather than judgment when approaching sin.

Pope Francis Announces Global Prayer Vigil for Peace on Sept. 7

by BY KERRY LENARTOWICK/ CNA 09/02/2013

VATICAN — Departing from his typical reflections on the Sunday gospel, Pope Francis used his Angelus audience today to call for peace throughout the world, particularly in conflict-ridden Syria.

“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me,” he said to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 1.

“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” continued the Pope.

“For this reason, brothers and sisters, I have decided to call for a vigil for the whole Church,” he announced.

It will be “a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and throughout world.”

The vigil will take place on Sept. 7, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace. Those who can will gather in St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. until midnight: other local Churches are requested to join in the fasting and prayer by gathering together.

Pope Francis extended his invitation to “fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

“Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” said the Pope.

“All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace,” he charged.

“I make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Catholic Church, and also to every Christian of other confessions, as well as to followers of every religion and to those brothers and sisters who do not believe: peace is a good which overcomes every barrier, because it belongs all of humanity!”

The Pope went on to lament the use of arms and its negative impact on civilians, the unarmed, and children, particularly recently in the “martyred country” of Syria.

“With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict,” he said.

Pope Francis also asked the international community “to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay.”

He rejected the use of chemical weapons and requested that humanitarian workers “be granted access so as to provide the necessary aid.”

The Pope continued his insistent appeal for peace: “It is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

Noting Mary’s universal motherly concern, Pope Francis said, “Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children!”

As he has done on previous Sundays, Pope Francis led the crowds in invoking her intercession: “Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”

[From National Catholic Register]

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