I write to you again about the protection of our young people from internet porn intruding into their homes against their parents’ wishes. Currently, there is a battle between the Commonwealth Government and most pornographic Internet Services Providers (ISPs) over this matter.Download
‘The Holy Spirit is raising new life in stony deserts’, stated His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey during his address at a highly successful dinner in Bunbury on Friday April 20th. Sponsored by the KSC’s South West Branch and held at the Cathedral Parish Hall, the event attracted 96 guests including Bishop Gerard Holohan, Bishop of Bunbury Diocese, local clergy and religious, representatives from Southern Cross Care (SCC) as well as parishioners from Bunbury, Dardanup, Leschenault and Manjimup parishes.
Addressing the topic, ‘The Church faces the modern world – what is expected of us today’, His Grace guided his attentive audience through the issues and challenges within Church and society that hamper its evangelising mission. Within the Church he cited sinfulness, child abuse, injustice, indifference and a lack of zeal, including too few active members with too many Catholics too comfortable and complacent about their lives. Opposition to Church teaching by some elements in the Church compromised Catholicism and diluted its evangelising efforts. ‘We should reach out with the Good News to the 80-90% of our fellow baptised non-practising Catholics’, he urged.
Obstacles in society to accepting the Good News include our comfortable lifestyle, rejection of Christian teaching on marriage and human sexuality, the increased percentage of society that claims ‘no religion’ and the rise of atheism, evident by the promotion of “gender theory” in the education system all aided by a generally anti-Christian media. In some parts of the world there is active persecution of Christians.
‘However’, His Grace said, ‘there is evidence of recovery, especially in other parts of the world, as grassroots movements are appearing and, like the early Church, domestic churches are being formed to meet the challenges of active persecution and oppression’.
The task for us then is to remember the special role of the laity in this recovery process, especially by renewing its familiarity with the Bible, strengthening family culture, its rituals and prayer.
Following His Grace’s address, Brad Prentice, Chairman of the Southern Cross Care board, pointed out that SCC, sponsored by the KSC, is a not-for-profit organisation which has been delivering aged care services to West Australians for over 50 years. He introduced Carole Bain, SCC’s General Manager Service Delivery, who gave a brief outline of the organisation’s extensive portfolio of aged care services, including retirement villages, residential, carer respite and home care.
The Southern Plus home care services, available throughout the southwest and managed from the Busselton regional office, offer a complete range of in-home and social support tailored to needs to help its clients remain in their homes to live life to the fullest. Arranged by dedicated case managers, Wellness Partners and Support Workers, this support can include dressing and grooming, shopping, cooking meals, gardening as well as health services like podiatry and nursing. Southern Plus in the Southwest also has a social centre based in Busselton, where the over 65’s can come and socialise, take part in many individual or group activities or go for short day trips with other like minded people. ‘Think Southern Cross Care for all aged care support’, was Carole’s mantra.
For more information about Southern Plus in-home health and wellness services call 1300 000 161.
During the season of Advent, the Neocatechumenal Way around the world presents in parishes the Nativity story of our Lord Jesus Christ. It also presents the spiritual and physical journey of St Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the shepherds and the three wise men. This year, Fr Noe and the families in mission (Aguilar and Louro families), were delighted to present this play in St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish. It was only possible with the help of the Couples for Christ, other parishioners from different ministries and of course with the help of the children of the parish who were invited to participate in this play. Over a series of rehearsals made possible by the hard work and participation of the children, including the aid of their parents, we were able to present this small play to the parishioners of Bunbury on the 15th of December 2017. Not only was this an opportunity for the children to be a part of a new experience, but it was also a way for them to transmit and embody the spirit of Christmas.
The people of St Joseph’s Parish in Manjimup opened their hearts and their wallets for those in need by making donations to the Parish Hamper Drive in the lead up to Christmas.
The generosity of the parishioners meant that 46 families received a large hamper of food. This consisted of a bag of Christmas treats and another bag of everyday necessities.
85 children also received a Christmas gift.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Sadly, in the recent debate about gay marriage, many gay people – along with their parents, family members and friends – have been hurt by what they have been told is Catholic teaching on homosexual people. Catholic teaching on the dignity of gay people is one thing: Catholic teaching on marriage is another.
At one level, it is understandable unfortunately that the two have become confused – particularly as a result of media misunderstanding; the expressed views of Catholics who do not follow Catholic teaching; and the insensitivity of some Catholics during the recent debate. Many of you – like me – have been asked questions by family members who are gay.
I offer the following – which really is no different from Catholic teaching on how all people should be loved. Catholics are called to love those of gay orientation, for they
- are loved completely and unconditionally by God
- share the same human dignity as all other human beings
- are human persons with gifts from God, and should never be categorised simply by their sexual orientation
- are entitled to the same respect as everyone else
- must never be treated unjustly.
Jesus died on the cross for the salvation of all people, including those of homosexual orientation. He calls them to experience himself, his guidance and his power in their daily lives as members of his Body, the Church.
Every parish needs to reach out and to welcome its gay brothers and sisters. They should not be treated any differently from other parishioners.
Gay people, like everyone else, are called to live all of God’s commandments as Jesus taught them. Many live the chaste life style no less than others.
Some find the Sixth Commandment difficult to live, as do many who are not gay. The Church calls all to seek the power Jesus offers, particularly through the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to help them live God’s Commandments and seek God’s forgiveness.
What are our personal attitudes?
There has been prejudice against gay people across society for centuries. I invite Catholics to ask themselves: ‘Does my attitude towards those of homosexual orientation reflect my Catholic faith or the negative social attitudes?’ ‘What about how I behave or speak to or about gay people?’
The issue of same-sex marriage has been about whether the name for one institution should be used for two distinctive relationships. Australian society has now decided this question. Unfortunately, Catholic teaching on marriage has been presented insensitively at times and left some gay people now feeling wounded. This should be a cause of sorrow for us all.
Let us reach out …
In conclusion, let us do all that we can to reach out and make gay people as welcome in our parishes. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Bishop Gerard Holohan 18th November 2017
Dear Parishioners and Parents of Catholic school students
I am writing this letter because I am concerned about some confusion in relation to possible consequences for Catholic schools of a YES vote in the current plebiscite about same-sex marriage. Currently, Australians basically are being asked whether two very different committed relationships should be called by the same term, ‘marriage’.
One of these relationships is between a man and a woman who can conceive children: the other is between two people of the same sex who cannot.
Currently, there are those who suggest that there will be no consequences for schools and other organisations – or for parents and others with conscientious objections to calling same sex relationships ‘marriage’. Perhaps they do not realise that Australia has no Bill of Right to provide protections such as New Zealand enjoys.
Those advocating same-sex marriage need to demonstrate that consequences elsewhere will not happen in Australia.
Consequences in other countries
In other countries, such as Canada, for example
- parents have been denied the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes because they found lessons related to homosexual practices objectionable
- Catholic schools have been compelled to host ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ clubs as part of their school life.
There have been violations too of religious freedoms. For example
- religious organisations have been fined for not renting facilities for same-sex marriage relations
- a baker in Northern Ireland was fined for refusing to write ‘I support Gay Marriage’ on a cake
- Lutheran ministers in Denmark now are not permitted to refuse same sex marriages
- preachers in Canada have been subject to investigation by human rights tribunals for speaking about Christian teaching on marriage
- in Sweden, the Prime Minister has said priests should not be allowed to refuse requests for same-sex wedding ceremonies
- in Britain, the Speaker of the House of Commons says that ‘proper equal marriage’ will not happen until churches are forced by law to marry same-sex couples.
There are numerous other examples.
Threats already to freedom in Australia
In Australia, State laws and institutions have been used against basic freedoms and rights. They will be used further by activists. For example
- In Tasmania, Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous was subject to a complaint for a booklet explaining Catholic teaching on marriage. This complaint was eventually withdrawn as people generally began to realise the implications for religious freedom and freedom of speech if same-sex marriage becomes law.
- in Victoria, the so called Safe Schools programme, which promotes the idea that gender identity is not from nature but from social attitudes and that a person’s sexuality can be fluid, has been made compulsory in State schools regardless of parental objections, and advocates are pushing for the programme to be made compulsory for all schools, including Catholic schools
- the Greens party is advocating the winding back of religious freedoms – such as those of religious schools to protect their ethos. One example is being able to select staff who support this ethos.
Across the world, complainants against organisations and individuals who promote Jesus’ teachings on marriage have been funded by State bodies, and this has disadvantaged those without the resources to fund legal defences. This has created an inequality.
Recognising differences is not unjust
Recognising difference is not unjust discrimination any more than it is unjust discrimination to call some vehicles trucks and others cars. Both have equal rights to the road – but they are not the same. Nor is the same word used for both these vehicles.
We do not see awarding gold medals to Olympic champions; the awarding of prizes to students who do well in their studies; or giving scholarships to some rather than others as unjust – and yet all are examples of discrimination. The same is true for women’s and men’s football and cricket competitions.
Not really about equality
According to Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament, all legal discrimination against gay people was removed by the Rudd Government in 2008, so we are not really talking about equality for gay people. After all, we do not consider the love between parents and children or brothers and sisters any less equal than that between a husband and wife: they are just different.
Legalising same-sex marriage will set the law of the land in conflict with the laws of most non-Christian and Christian religions in Australia. It will set the scene for societal conflict as activists use state laws and anti-discrimination bodies to try to force religious to change.
The same sex marriage debate is not about equality in any substantive sense. However, extending the word marriage to include same sex relationships has had major consequences, often unforeseen, elsewhere – and inevitably will do so in Australia.
The meaning of marriage for Catholics
For Catholics, the meaning of marriage in our Creator’s plan for human nature – has been revealed by God and taught by Jesus Christ. The notion of same-sex marriage is not only different, but completely opposite to this. Jesus told us to live his commandments so no Christian church has the authority to change this teaching.
Christian teaching is also that all people’s rights and dignity must be respected. But to have different terms for different relationships violates no one’s dignity or rights. The term ‘civil union’ is used for committed same-sex couples in some countries – so why not here?
Thank you for reading this letter. I felt it important to offer considerations relevant to the present debate, characterised more by slogans than substance. I for one will be voting NO.
God bless you
For Catholics, marriage between a man and a woman is different from any other relationship. Therefore, the word ‘marriage’ should not be used for any other relationship.
The reasons for saying that marriage is a distinctive relationship are based upon
- The intent of the Creator of human nature
- Commonwealth law related to marriage which cannot change
- general human experience and instinct.
The intent of the Creator
The latest Commonwealth census showed that around one-third of Australians now consider themselves to be atheist. Not believing in a Creator, the Creator’s intent is irrelevant to their thinking.
However, for all who do believe in God, marriage between a man and a woman is the revealed intent of the Creator of human nature – the One who understands human beings better than they understand themselves.
The second of the two Creation stories in the Bible ends with the man and the woman becoming one flesh.(Genesis 2.24) In the culture of the time, the body was the ‘language’ which expressed the person in verbal and non-verbal ways.
Becoming ‘one flesh’ meant becoming one physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. Deepening ‘oneness’, along with openness to children, are the purposes of marriage for believers in God.
For Christians, Jesus taught that failures to live marriage as God intended were the result of human sinfulness. (Matthew 19.8) Some today argue that such failures are merely different ideas about what marriage really is. This is not the Gospel view.
Jesus reaffirmed marriage as revealed by the Creator, teaching (Matthew 19.6)
So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.
Slogans such as ‘marriage equality’ have blinded many to the reality that Commonwealth law will never recognise marriage between a man and a woman as the same thing as ‘marriage’ between a couple of the same sex. The issue really is not about equality but whether one word should be used for fundamentally different realities.
Marriage between a man and a woman in Australia is illegal if they are too closely related by blood. The reason for this is to protect possible children from genetic disorders and higher risk of physical and developmental disability.
This reason cannot apply to couples of the same gender. Their relationship will always be different.
Over thousands of years, there have been different ideas about marriage across different cultures. But what has been common is the recognition that marriage is between a man and one or more women or a woman and one or more men.
What God revealed in the Book of Genesis human beings have known by intuition. This intuition will not die for it is instinctive to human nature.
Respect for homosexual people
Homosexuality has taken a great variety of forms across the centuries in different cultures. Its psychological genesis is still largely unexplained.
Like all people, those of homosexual orientation are called to chastity, God’s commandments are for all: they do not discriminate.
In a society which continues to sexualise its young at ever earlier ages, the idea of people not ‘having sex’ seems impossible. However, such ideas reflect a failure to integrate the sexual within the whole human person.
The Catholic Church calls all people to respect the dignity of every human being, regardless of sexual orientation. Hence, homosexual people need to be spoken to – and spoken about – respectfully in the current debate about same-sex marriage.
What inequality is there today?
Those arguing for same-sex marriage have offered only slogans such as ‘marriage equality’ and ‘all love is equal’. There have been no substantative arguments put forward to justify such slogans and I discussed their disingenuity two weeks ago.
No one wants inequality and so linking same-sex marriage to equality reflects public relations genius. Tanya Plibersek, now Deputy Leader of the Opposition, explained in 2015 that the Rudd Government had:
… changed 85 laws, removed every piece of legal discrimination against gays and lesbians and same-sex couples on the statute books.
Linking same sex marriage with equality has won support from many people. In fact, the issue is not about equality, but the effort to change the meaning of a word.
One of the questions ignored is ‘What are possible consequences if same sex marriage becomes law?’ The answer is found in other countries such as Canada where
- parents have been denied the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes they found to be objectionable
- same sex marriage has been presented in schools as an alternative to man-woman marriage, leading to confusion about roles such as mother and father
- a statute in Ontario compels Catholic schools to host ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ clubs
- civil marriage celebrants are refused the right to follow their consciences by not celebrating same sex marriages
- religious organisations have been fined for not renting facilities for same sex marriage celebrations
- preachers have been subjected to investigation by human rights tribunals for speaking about Christian teaching on marriage.
In Australia, Archbishop Julian Porteous was investigated by the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner after a complaint by a Greens Party candidate over the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter Don’t Mess With Marriage.
Parishioners may be interested to read an analysis of the Canadian situation on www.mffc.org.au>news>samesexmarriage
Let us try to promote reasoned discussion in our families and communities on the issue of same-sex marriage. Let us respect the fact that a life-long loving committed relationship between a man and a woman that is open to children is special.
Let advocates of same sex marriage accept that a different word is needed for same sex relationships.
Most Rev Gerard J Holohan
Bishop of Bunbury
2nd September 2017
The decision of the Commonwealth Government to put to a referendum or plebiscite the question whether the word ‘marriage’ (currently a relationship between a man and a woman) should be used also for a biologically and psychologically different relationship (between two people of the same sex) gives Australians finally an opportunity to engage in a reasoned discussion. To date, there have been nothing more than emotional slogans and a concerted effort to force change by momentum.
However, with this opportunity goes the responsibility for people to think through and to discuss all the relevant issues. There is the additional responsibility to contribute relevant facts. These things are required for any democracy to function properly.
One-sided media promotion
Paul Barry, the presenter of Media Watch on ABC TV, highlighted recently how the media is promoting a one-sided view of same-sex marriage, and denying an equal opportunity to those against it to present their case (Media Watch 17/8). He cited the example of a paid advertisement by Marriage Alliance which was refused air time by Channels Seven and Ten, along with 2Day FM, The Australian Radio Network and Nova.
Readers can google the article for themselves. Barry also points to the pressure on media by same-sex marriage advocates not to present any opposition to their point of view. He asks ‘Whatever happened to free speech?’
Barry himself, an advocate for the same-sex marriage, concluded
… this is a conscience issue and an important change that’s being proposed, and surely both sides of the debate have an equal right to be heard.
Democracy requires informed debate. Media attempts to manipulate public opinion and to deny free speech to opponents of their view are an abuse of power and a failure of responsibility. Nova, for example, stated (Media Watch 17/8)
We simply felt that this message (is) significantly out of alignment with the Nova brand and our audience.
What was the Marriage Alliance advertisement about?
The Marriage Alliance advertisement simply highlighted the need for people to think through implications of same-sex marriage. Examples they point to are
- freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of trade and freedom of privacy
- sex education in schools
- the psychological emotional and intellectual effects of deliberately fatherless or motherless childhoods
- the implications of a mother being optional.
In this context, it is worth noting that, in some countries, the legislation of same-sex marriage has lessoned religious freedom, including in Catholic schools. In Canada, for example, no parent can request their child be exempted on moral, conscience or any other grounds from classes teaching alternative ideas on sexuality and family.
In Australia, the Australian Education Union has adopted a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Policy under the mantle of making schools safer for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. Catholic schools achieve the same goal by teaching the dignity of every human person as someone created in the image and likeness of God.
In practice, the Education Union policy goes way beyond the protection of students to ‘celebrating diversity’. Media refusal to accept paid advertisements by Marriage Alliance censors community discussion on the implications of same-sex marriage legislation.
This leaves the current slogan-based media promotion of same-sex marriage free to discourage any thought about implications. What are some examples of such slogans?
(i) We stand for Marriage equality
We Australians react quickly against any inequality. So it is clever of same-sex marriage advocates to create a slogan connecting marriage and equality.
What we need to ask is: ‘Is there marriage inequality?’ ‘Are same-sex couples deprived of any rights which heterosexual married couples enjoy in the law?’
The best response to these questions is that of another advocate for same-sex marriage, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, from earlier this year. Referring to the legislative changes of 2008, she said [Marriage Alliance website]
… we changed 85 laws, removed every piece of legal discrimination against gay and lesbians and same-sex couples on the statute books.
The suggestion that there is any legal inequality between heterosexual and same-sex couples is without foundation. Slogans referring to ‘marriage equality’ therefore do not stand scrutiny.
(ii) Change will remove injustice and discrimination
There is no question that homosexual people have suffered unjust discrimination in the past. We need to be sensitive in discussing same-sex marriage for no one should want to hurt others.
However, the fact remains that the above words of Tanya Plibersek show that there is no legal injustice or discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia today – nor has there been any since 2008. So if Parliament were to legislate same-sex marriage, no injustice would be removed.
Sometimes people speak as though discrimination is always unjust. However, while unjust discrimination is always wrong, without just discrimination, there would be no Brownlow Medals, Victoria Cross winners, school awards and male and female change rooms.
Unjust discrimination violates the human rights of some. Just discrimination, on the other hand, recognises legitimate differences but violates no one’s human rights.
Same-sex relationships are different from heterosexual marriages. But to say this is no more unjustly discriminatory than to distinguish the relationships between parents and children from those of brothers and sisters.
(iii) Both relationships are essentially the same
Suggestions that hetero-sexual and same-sex relationships are essentially the same, and so should both be recognised as marriage, ignore facts of biology, law and language.
The biological differences are obvious. And their sexuality effects every aspect of a person – how they think, how they feel in situations and so on. Hetero and homosexual relationships, therefore, cannot be exactly the same.
Second, law will always recognise differences between these relationships. Heterosexual relationships have the natural capacity to conceive children so the law prohibits close blood relationships from marrying because of the risk of harm to possible children.
Homosexual relationships, on the other hand, can never naturally conceive children. There will never be a legal need, therefore, to prohibit certain close blood relationships from entering into homosexual relationships as there is no risk.
Finally, the language of hetero and homosexual marriages would be different. A wife-wife or husband-husband relationship will always be different from a husband-wife relationship.
(iv) ‘Love is equal’: ‘love is love’
This is obviously true. Who is going to suggest, for example, that married, parental or sibling love is less equal or loving than love in other relationships? But to say that love is equal is not to say it is the same in different relationships.
Genuine love helps others grow, so the experience and effects of love are different in different relationships. The experience of parental love and its effects, for example, will be different from those of the love of siblings.
No loving relationship confident in itself needs to claim the name of another loving relationship for legitimacy or to feel equal. And the fact that love is equal does not justify changing the meaning of marriage to include same-sex couples.
(v) Most people support same-sex marriage
Promoters of same-sex marriage claim support of between 60 – 70% of Australians. If this is indeed the case, their cause will win any referendum or plebiscite overwhelmingly, so they have nothing to worry about.
However, the confidence of those proposing same-sex marriage seems shaken by the possibility of the Australian people being given the opportunity to vote on the issue.
One objection is that the question could be put in a way that the 60-70% of those in favour would vote against it. But we need to ask ourselves: ‘Are Australians really so unintelligent that they are likely to vote the against to their own wishes?’
Could proponents’ fear in fact stem from another fear – that opinion polls suggesting in favour of same-sex marriage posed manipulative questions?
In this context, it is interesting to note that the latest opinion poll for the seat of Canning as it prepares for a by-election shows that only 46.9% of electors – less than half – would vote for same-sex marriage. This is a long way from 60 – 70% support!
This leads to the question: ‘Could claims of support by proponents of same-sex marriage be wildly exaggerated for political reasons?’
(vi) Australia will be out of step with other countries
Of 196 countries across the world, 22 have legislated same-sex marriage. Of the remaining 174 countries, 14 have legislated civil unions which give same-sex couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.
In 2008, the Australian Parliament legislated the same legal rights to same-sex couples as those enjoyed by married couples. The only thing missing, in law at least, is a name for the union of same-sex couples.
Given that the sole basis for same-sex relationships is the choice of the couple and that, unlike heterosexual marriage, there is no prospect of conceiving children naturally, the logical name for same-sex relationships should be Civil Union.
(vii) Religious people should not impose their idea
Marriage is not the creation of any religion. Hetero-sexual couples have always married each other – though religions have celebrated and blest their unions.
For thousands of years, marriage has been recognised as a distinctive relationship between a man and a woman. This has been the only commonly recognised feature of marriage over the millennia, though there have been different ideas about whether marriage is for life and for children, as well as different ideas on questions such as divorce and the number of husbands or wives.
Heterosexual marriage, therefore, is a phenomenon of human nature – not religion. Unlike same-sex relationships, it is common to all cultures and religions.
If people try to side-line those involved in a religion as a means of silencing their opposition, religious people need to point out that marriage is a phenomenon of human nature. All human beings are entitled to speak.
(viii) Parliament should follow the people’s wishes
This is the slogan of those who claim polls show Australians overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage – a questionable claim, given the poll in the seat of Canning. However, even if this claim proves to be true, the slogan misunderstands the responsibility of parliamentarians. In the words of the great parliamentarian, Edmund Bourke
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinions.
When leaders choose to make themselves bidders at our auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators …
Parliamentarians need to base their votes on facts and discussion, listening to all sides of any argument. Their ‘judgement’ needs to be informed by the fact that, since 2008, heterosexual and same-sex couples enjoy exactly the same rights under Australian law.
Exercising their judgement is difficult on the issue of same-sex marriage as those who have elected them are being denied equal media access to the arguments of both sides. This has been well established by Paul Barry on Media Watch.
The current media thrust reflects the best practice of a marketing campaign and the principles of propaganda. To cite one principle example: ‘Repeat something often enough and people will believe it.’
The seriousness of legally changing the meaning of marriage demands serious factual debate – not treatment in the same way as the marketing of a brand of toothpaste. The debate needs to focus too on the future implications of any change.
Proposal for moving forward
Given that heterosexual marriage and homosexual relationships are quite different, the logical consequence is that each relationship should have its own name. Australia should follow those countries, therefore, which name same-sex, relationships ‘Civil Union’. This acknowledges the basis for these relationships – the agreed union of the couple. There will be no naturally conceived children by these couples.
On present implications, it is unlikely that both sides of the debate about changing the meaning of marriage in Australia will be allowed an equal hearing. It depends upon ordinary people, therefore, to raise awareness of the implications (such as those pointed to by Marriage Alliance) of such change. They need too to counter misleading slogans by the same-sex marriage lobby.
There is no doubt that confidence is declining among those proposing same-sex marriage, despite emotion and efforts to rush legislation through Parliament. Confident people do not
- seek to silence opposition for they are confident of their case
- vilify opponents when they speak
- have concerns about people voting
- seek to stifle discussion on serious implications of what they propose.
Anyone committed genuinely to democracy in Australia needs to remember their responsibility to contribute to the good of society. The only thing necessary for the current push for same-sex marriage to succeed is for people not to be informed about both sides of the debate.
On Sunday 18 June, Baden Crapella, Jack Girando, Luke Hallett, Jack Lee Steere and Imogen Mead received their First Holy Communion. Thank you to Fr Roshan, parishioners, teachers and parents, who worked together to make this such a memorable day. It was lovely to have the support of family, parish, teachers and prayer friends from all the classes to celebrate this special sacrament.
Every Easter is a celebration of why Jesus came. If you ask people today why Jesus came, there will be many answers.
Some will say, for example, ‘To teach us to love’; for others, the answer will be ‘To make our world more just’. A critical question to understand Jesus and his ministry is: ‘In what ways was Jesus different from other major religious figures?’ ‘What did Jesus teach that was different’?
The reason Jesus came
Easter reminds us that Jesus came to share with us his own divine life. Through Baptism, he, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, have ‘made a home’ within us.
Jesus made his purpose clear when he said
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus taught who the Christian is – someone who, through Jesus, shares God’s own life. And since Jesus shares God’s life through Baptism, Jesus insisted that all who believe in him he baptised.
How can God’s life affect us?
Jesus is fully divine and fully human. If nurtured in the ways that he taught, the life, and therefore the power of God within, moves our thoughts and behaviours increasingly to express Christ-like love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and justice.
This is well beyond what is possible through human effort alone. God’s power can free us gradually of crippling human weaknesses such as selfishness, hard-heartedness and desires for vengeance.
As God’s power within grows, increasingly believers will find themselves growing in self understanding through insights from the Creator who understands them best. They will find increasing inner healing and peace.
They will find too guidance and inner strengthening for their daily lives. They will find insights into personal questions; and paths through their problems.
How do we nurture God’s life within?
Many today reduce Christianity to a kind of ethic. They see it to be about simply being ‘a good person’, a person who behaves in particular ways.
For Jesus, Christianity is much more. It is about growing inner peace as well as harmony with others as we draw on the power of God within to live as he taught. For this, Jesus stressed that the Eucharist is essential for it nourishes divine life.
Anyone who eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life …
… if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Not understanding why Jesus came, many see prayer and the sacraments, including the Eucharist, merely as spiritual options. For Jesus, on the other hand, Christians who do not receive the Eucharist suffer spiritual malnutrition.
They lack the inner empowerment to love and to do good in the ways Jesus taught. This will affect their married and family lives; their self understanding and their inner freedom as people.
An empowering faith
Easter reminds us that Jesus taught Christianity as an empowering faith. The vision behind his teachings is about who we can become as we nurture the life of God within.
I wish each of you the faith to open yourselves even more to the life of the Risen Lord, present in you through Baptism.
Most Rev Gerard J Holohan
Bishop of Bunbury