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Electronic Bulletin of the
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane

Friday 16 October 2020

The Church in the Modern World


Our society tends to draw away from, or to push away, those who confront us with our frailties and limitations. It is a dynamic that is completely at odds with the story of Jesus. In the Incarnation Jesus takes on the frailty of the human condition. He actively draws near to those who are sick or who have disabilities, those who are poor, marginalised or despised.

Through Jesus we have become members of one body. People living with mental health challenges, are no less members of the Body of Christ than anyone else. People with mental illness and their families often feel isolated from their faith community and thus isolated from God. Isolation is often caused by social stigma: the idea that mental illness is a question of character or a punishment from God.

Our parishes, organisations and communities should be places of acceptance, care and healing, not places of rejection or judgement. Furthermore, as Pope Francis constantly reminds us, we have to take the initiative to go out to those pushed to the edges, rather than waiting for them to come to us seeking welcome.


ACBC Social Justice Statement 2020 – 2021

To Live Life to the Full
The Bishops’ Social Justice Statement 2020 – 2021, To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia, encourages us to challenge the stigmatisation of people living with mental ill-health. The Office for Social Justice has a number of resources to help you to learn more about this issue and to take action on it. These include:
  • The text of the Statement;
  • A video introduction to the Statement by Bishop Vincent Long;
  • Liturgy resources;
  • A prayer card;
  • Podcasts which include a spoken word version of the Statement and, a discussion about mental health challenges for young people and a discussion about the intersection between homelessness, disability and mental ill-health.
Do Not Be Afraid
If you are seeking some guidance on how your parish, school or group could reach out to people with mental ill-health, you can purchase a guide produced by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Do Not Be Afraid: Mental Illness and Outreach: Guidelines for Parishes:!/Do-Not-Be-Afraid-Mental-illness-and-Outreach-Guidelines-for-Parishes/p/152042174/category=4727032
Qld Alliance for Mental Health
If you are looking for community mental health organisations in Queensland or want to find out more about specific issues for advocacy with Governments, your local MP or with candidates in the forthcoming Queensland State Election, take a look at the web site of the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health. Its membership list has information about many community health organisations in Queensland. In its resources section, there are links to many submissions and reports on a wide range of issues including the Productivity Commissions Inquiry into Mental Health, mental health issues associated with aged care, prisons, COVID-19 and housing. You will find this information at:
Path to Treaty
Path to Treaty is a Queensland Government program to foster a journey to create a new future between First Nations peoples and all Queenslanders.

When Queensland was settled, there was no treaty agreement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners and custodians. First Nations peoples were displaced from their land without any negotiation, resulting in political, economic and social inequalities that continue to this day.

In 2019 the Queensland Government committed to a reframed relationship with First Nations peoples, issuing a statement of commitment and shortly afterwards appointing an Eminent Panel of experts to report on the way forward to treaty. A Treaty Working Group, working under the direction of the Eminent Panel, undertook community consultations around Queensland in 2019 and provided a report to the Eminent Panel to inform their advice to government.

In February 2020 the Eminent Panel gave their advice and recommendations to the Queensland Government. In May 2020 the Eminent Panel updated their advice to include COVID-19 considerations. 

In August 2020 the Queensland Government accepted, or accepted in principle, the recommendations of the Eminent Panel and released a statement of commitment and response.

The next stage will be establishing a Treaty Advancement Committee to partner with the Queensland Government on implementing the Eminent Panel recommendations. You can find the key documents associated with this process at:

Actions you can take:
  • Study these documents and try to arrange discussions about the recommendations and actions proposed with local First Nations peoples;
  • During the current State election, ask the candidates in your electorate if they are aware of the Path to Treaty process and recommendations and if they will actively support them if elected;
  • Start discussing with local First Nations peoples a possible approach to your newly elected MP to hold a discussion about the Path to Treaty program going forward.
Learn about Cherbourg
The Archdiocesan Justice & Peace Commission has been developing relationships with people and organisations in the Aboriginal community of Cherbourg. This community is situated within the Archdiocese about 3.5 hours’ drive from Brisbane. We encourage parishes, schools, agencies and groups within the Archdiocese to arrange a guided tour of the Ration Shed Museum in the heart of Cherbourg. You will have an opportunity to view films and displays about the story of Cherbourg, listen to elders’ stories of life in Cherbourg, learn about the many local initiatives which seek to address the issues caused by the injustices of the past, and purchase some of the beautiful pottery and artwork produced by internationally acclaimed Cherbourg artists and potters. You can find more information about the Ration Shed Museum on its web site:

You can also either phone the Museum on 4169 5753 or e-mail to arrange a tour group and obtain information about costs, etc. This is one important way you can show a commitment to learning the truth about the dispossession of First Nations peoples and the many injustices they have experienced. This is an important first step in supporting their struggle for justice.
Refugees and People Seeking Asylum
The Commission joins with other community organisations in expressing its deep concerns about the Federal Government’s treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum. This includes those refugees and people seeking asylum who have been detained for many years in PNG and Nauru or in detention facilities in Australia, those people seeking asylum and their children who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table because they have lost their jobs and are not eligible for income or accommodation support from the Federal Government or those people seeking asylum who have been in community detention and now face removal of accommodation and income support.

You can find out more about these and other issues as well as how you can get involved in national campaigns by exploring the Refugee Council of Australia website at:
West Papua
There have been many developments concerning West Papua in recent weeks. On the front page of the International Coalition for Papua web site, you will find links to a human rights update, a report on a recent call from the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum for action on human rights abuses in West Papua and an open letter to the Indonesian President from the West Papua Council of Churches calling for an end to the military build-up in the Highlands and for the President to commit to talk with groups seeking a new referendum on self-determination. Go to:
Brothers and Sisters All
Pope Francis new encyclical on fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, is now available. It encourages us to promote social and economic inclusion locally, nationally and internationally. It covers a wide range of topics including migration, dialogue, reconciliation and war. You can find an overview and links to Archbishop Coleridge’s statement on the encyclical and the full text of the encyclical at:
World Day of the Poor
This is Anti-Poverty Week in Australia. It’s a time when we are encouraged to learn more about groups of people in Australia and overseas who live with poverty, the causes, some of the responses being proposed and some of the actions being taken. You can find out more at:

We look forward also to the 4th World Day of the Poor on Sunday 15 November 2020. Pope Francis’ Message for this day, Stretch Forth Your Hand to the Poor, explores the wisdom of the Old Testament Book of Sirach to provide us with guidance on how God wants us to support those struggling to overcome the impact of poverty in their lives. You can read the Message at:
Re-structuring at the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference means that two friends of the Commission at the Office for Social Justice, John Ferguson and Lyn Delaguiado, will no longer be employed by the ACBC. We thank Lyn and John for all their wonderful work and support over many years. It is very sad to say goodbye to them, but we wish them well into the future.

We look forward to continuing the working relationship the Commission has developed with Dr Sandie Cornish who will take up a new position as Social Justice Officer supporting the Bishops’ Commission for Social Justice.
Copyright © 2020 Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, All rights reserved.

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