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Electronic Bulletin of the
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane

Tuesday 31 March 2020

The Church in the Modern World



The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering. The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith. We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love. In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side. The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.
Embracing his cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. By his cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others. Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

Pope Francis, Moment of Prayer, 27 March 2020, Rome

Pope Meditates on Covid-19 
Last Friday evening in Rome, Pope Francis presided over a prayer service in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the service, he meditated on the story of the calming of the sea in Mark’s Gospel. He speaks of the solidarity and service which flow from our faith in Jesus. His words may help you to navigate the stormy seas we find ourselves in at present. The full text of the meditation is at:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/urbi-et-orbi-pope-coronavirus-prayer-blessing.html
Death Penalty Vigil
Since 2008, the Commission has co-hosted a prayer vigil for those on death row with Corinda-Graceville Parish. The current restrictions on public gatherings prevent us from conducting the vigil at Christ the King Church this year. However, we want to ensure that prayer in solidarity with those facing execution around the world is not silenced. So, the prayer vigil will take place on-line this year via the Zoom platform. The vigil will still take place at noon on Good Friday, 10 April. If you have not participated in a Zoom video conferencing meeting or event before, you will need to download the Zoom software onto your computer or the Zoom app onto your smart phone. This is a very easy task. Please click on the link below any time before the start of the vigil and you will be prompted to install the software or app. Once installed, simply click on the same link before noon on Good Friday and wait for the vigil to start.
 
The text of prayers and songs will be shared on your screen at the appropriate times during the vigil, but if you would like a copy of the vigil program e-mailed to you beforehand, please e-mail Peter Arndt at arndtp@bne.catholic.net.au.
 
To join the vigil on Good Friday, click on the following: link to Zoom meeting
Refugees and the Pandemic
The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will increase the stress and anxiety of refugees and people seeking asylum.

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has created a resource to help refugee communities. If you work with refugees and people seeking asylum, please share it with them: https://action.refugeecouncil.org.au/... 

Over the past two weeks we have been consulting widely with our members across the country, both via the emergency Asylum Policy Network (APN) meeting we convened, direct conversations and the following survey: link to survey
 
After wide consultation, the RCOA has identified 5 priorities for the Government to address concerns about the impact of the pandemic on refugees and people seeking asylum:
  1. Move people urgently out of crowded immigration detention facilities
  2. Ensure a financial safety net and Medicare access for people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia
  3. Simplify processes for visa grants and renewals
  4. Move refugees and people seeking asylum from PNG and Nauru
  5. Explore permanency and family reunion for people moving to high-need regional areas 
As these measures are urgent, RCOA urges you to reach out to your local MP on these issues. RCOA has created the following action to do that: https://action.refugeecouncil.org.au/email_covid_19
Qld Community Alliance Priorities
Representatives of the Archdiocese joined representatives from many other churches and faith groups, community organisations and unions to endorse the formation of action teams to develop campaigns on 4 key areas:
  • Training cultural community members  in workplace rights, leadership and advocacy;
  • Promoting a commitment to a living wage;
  • Real Jobs and Climate Action;
  • Addressing social isolation and promoting community connection
The action teams will take on responsibility for organising campaigns for the next 3 years. An initial focus for action will be the Queensland election in October.
 
The restrictions on gathering imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will mean that each team will need to re-shape their work. Stay tuned for more information.
Qld Community Alliance & Covid-19
The Leaders Council of the Alliance met last week to discuss its response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a strong commitment to work together to address the immense pressures the pandemic is creating for people across the many organisations which form the Alliance.
The Council agreed to pivot/redirect the Safe and Connected Communities campaign to focus on responses around social isolation and community connection in the pandemic context.
It also endorsed 4 system/policy asks:
  1. 80% Wage subsidy: Immediately provide up to 80% of a worker’s wage for hard hit employers that would otherwise stand down or make their employees redundant;
  2. Guarantee Medicare access and other safety net supports to everyone currently in Australia including temporary visa holders, NZ citizens, people seeking asylum, international students and undocumented workers;
  3. Ensure security of housing and utilities during the pandemic (energy, water, internet);
  4. Emergency funding of Community Neighbourhood Centres as the backbone of our community response.
The Government has responded to the call for a wage subsidy for employees affected by the pandemic. There are still concerns about the adequacy of the support being offered by the Government and the exclusion from the scheme of casual employees who have worked for the business for less than 12 months. Stay tuned for more information on this matter.
The Body of Christ & Covid-19
With the closure of all our parish churches throughout the Archdiocese and the loss of the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist, there is understandable concern about the disconnection and isolation many of us will feel. The article below reminds us that we can and must be the body of Christ even though we cannot physically gather around the eucharistic table. It particularly emphasises our call to be present in the lives of the most vulnerable people in our community at this time – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older people, people with disability and chronic illness, homeless people, refugees and people seeking asylum, unemployed people including those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and many more:
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/03/17/how-can-we-be-body-christ-when-coronavirus-closes-our-churches
Easter Blessings
These are difficult times. However you are able to remember and celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the coming weeks, the Commission hopes that you and those around you are richly blessed by the boundless mercy and love of God.
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