Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation - 2016
On this page:   Happy Christmas from Marist Mission Ranong  |  CLRI newsletters  |  Act Justly  |  Kiribati calling  |  Stories of Hope  |  Next 'Bridge Program' underway  |  ACRATH 2017 calendar  |  HandUp Congo  |  ACRATH newsletter and report  |  'If you want peace, seek justice'  |  Congratulations, James   |  Adolescence in Burma  | Listening to the poor  |  Latest 'Act Justly'  |  Refugee Week  |  Music for freedom  |   Pacific Climate Watch web updated  |  Humpty Dumpty politics  |  Climate Justice Speaking Tour  |  Freedom Stories  |  Palm Sunday rallies  |  New leaders and hope for Myanmar  |  Pacific Climate Watch  | The three sinners  |  Nauru Protests  |  Lenten Carbon Fast calendar

Happy Christmas from Marist Mission Ranong

Click here for end-of-year good news

[Dec 21]


CLRI newsletters

Click for recent issues of Just in Time and Watermark

[Dec 20]


Act Justly

Latest issue: click here

[Dec 14]


Kiribati calling

Pacific Climate Watch and the Edmund Rice Centre report...

[Dec 09]

'Last month two climate activists from Kiribati - Tinaai Teaua and Vasiti Tebamare - came to Australia to call on our leaders to take urgent action on climate change.

'At the end of a week in which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull killed any consideration of a carbon price and the Adani coal mine won its final approvals from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, Tinaai and Vasiti's message is really important.'  Click here


Stories of Hope

Latest from Marist Mission Ranong, Thailand.

Click here

[Dec 01]


Signature refugee camp image for the program / BP-ers online during a weekly Skype tutoiral

Next 'Bridge Program' under way

A record twenty-two young Burmese have commenced the latest 'Bridge Program', sponsored by the JPICC of the Marist Australian Province.

[Dec 01]

The 20-week online program offers refugee youth skill development to prepare for tertiary studies. BP-ers' participate in weekly group Skype video tutorials as well as submitting regular assignments and special projects.

Participants come from a range of Burmese ethnic groups, some living in refugee camps, other in towns on the Thai-Burma border. More at BP web site

Below: Some of the smiling faces of participants in BP16-17; Mae La refugee camp, on the Thai-Burma border.


Order from ACRATH. Click here

ACRATH 2017 calendar

From ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans), a message from Sr Noelene Simmons SM:

'Are you looking for a Christmas present? Do you want to help in the work against Human trafficking in Australia and beyond? The 2017 ACRATH calendar is now available.

'This calendar gives information about ACRATH and the issues facing those who are trafficked in Australia.'

[Nov 30]


For the HandUp Congo web site: click here

HandUp Congo

From Holy Name of Mary parish, Hunters Hill, Fr Kevin Bates reports on the link between the parish's Social Justice group and 'HandUp Congo'.

The small non-government agency, staffed mainly by Australian women, says 'A hand up is better than a hand out'.

In a novel but effective approach to support HandUp Congo offers 'Great ways to spend $300 in the Congo': click here

[Nov 29]


ACRATH newsletter and report

Australian Catholic Religious against trafficking in humans (ACRATR) rpeorts on its 2016 Visit to Federal Parliament:

'The latest issue of ACRATH News provides a report on ACRATH's recent visit to Federal Parliament. Over a four day period ACRATH met with 51 Members of Parliament, including 4 meetings with Ministers and Ministerial advisors. The MPs were from the Government, the Opposition and the Crossbench; they were from both the House of Representatives and the Senate...'

Full report, click here

[Sep 23


'If you want peace, seek justice'

Marist Laity Australia and St Patrick's Church Hill now have details of the Marist-to-Marist Philippines immersion experience planned for January 2017.

An information session will be held on Sat, Sep 10, at 11 am in the crypt of St Patrick's for keen and interested persons.

Click here

[Sep 07]


Congratulations, James!

Good news from Thailand and Burmese Kachin student, James Brangu, graduate of the Marist-sponsored Bridge Program (2013) and Australian Catholic University's Thai-Burma border online course (2014-15).

21 yr old James is the latest 'BP-er' to be granted a university scholarship. Bangkok's UTCC (University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce) has offered James a place in their four-year program in business administration.

Congratulations, James!

[Sep 05]

Below: UTCC's Bangkok campus.   |   James (2nd from right) on opening day at UTCC / ... with fellow 'BP-ers' in Maesot, Thailand.

Adolescence in Burma

Graduates from the Marist-sponsored 'Bridge Program' have produced YouTube video clips depicting what it's like to be an adolescent in Burma (Myanmar).

The 'BP-ers' are amongst students of Australian Catholic University's Thai-Burma border program at Mae Pa, Thailand.

Click below for some of the videos set as an assignment by ACU:
video 1   |    video 2   |   video 3.

[Aug 13]

Above: Clips of BP-ers in their video productions, Thura Hein / Amoe   |    Saw Yu Nwe / Du Du
Below: In their distinct BP shirts in 2014-15, Thura, Saw Yu Nwe, Amoe, Du Du and Hnin Set Win

Listening to the poor

Latest newsletter from Marist Mission Ranong: click here

[Aug 09]


Latest 'Act Justly'

Click here for latest issue

[Aug 02]


Refugee Week

June 19-25.

Details: click here for Refugee Council of Australia

[Jun 12]


Music for freedom

ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans) announces 'Music for Freedom', on May 14, at Del Monte school hall, Strathfield, NSW.

The fund-raising event will be compered by tghe ABC's John Cleary.

For details: click here
For ACRATH's April Newsletter: click here

[Apr 26]


Pacific Climate Watch web site updated

Further development of the web site of Pacific Climate Watch shows an increase in supporting groups and congregations, as well news articles and responses.

For the updated web site: click here

[Apr 22



Humpty Dumpty politics -- don't fall for it

Justin Glyn SJ



Justin Glyn's recent Eureka Street article warns of the word games our pollies continue to play on detention issues

We got a fine lesson this week in the art of language — one reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through the Looking Glass who said, 'When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

The Minister of Immigration, Peter Dutton, seems to have learned this lesson very well in relation to the word 'detention', which he redefined in relation to asylum seeker children to exclude not only those still remaining in Villawood (interestingly still called a 'detention centre') but also the 90 or so being sent back to languish on Nauru.

While the language game is scarcely unique to politicians, they have — with our connivance — turned it into a rare art form.

Illustration: Eureka Street

We would, in a heartbeat, sue our lawyer, accountant or estate agent for falsifying books or contracts or causing us to lose money on investments (think about the scandal surrounding financial advisors last year).

It is doubly astonishing then that we have been thoroughly conditioned to expect economy with the truth from those who are supposed to represent us at the highest levels of government.
Indeed, the situation has got so bad that some politicians are explicit about this: think about John Howard's 'core' promises and Tony Abbott's comments that only his scripted statements should be relied on.

(The latter raises an interesting version of the old 'liar paradox', since that statement was presumably not itself scripted.)

The temptation is to shrug and say, 'So what's new: pollies lie and the Pope is a Catholic?' Isn't all of this up there with the toilet habits of bears as an unremarkable description of the way the world works?

Yes and no. We may be used to politicians lying or breaking their promises but, if we accept it as part of the way the world works, then we must also accept that this says something deeper about the fitness for purpose of our political system.

Immanuel Kant, the famous 18th century German philosopher, said that lying was wrong because it disregarded the worth of the individual being lied to.

That may sound like high-flown idealism and typically theoretical philosopher's waffle, but his reasoning is actually very practical.

For Kant, autonomy (the ability to make free decisions) is the top priority and makes one human. (There are problems with this idea but political decision-making is one area where it really works.)

Lying is wrong because it saps autonomy — it deprives a person of the ability to make rational choices. We are social creatures, but once we know that we cannot expect the truth from each other, we have no idea what to make of the information we are fed. Society can no longer function properly.

[go to top of next column].

One may, rightly, cavil at the inflexibility of Kant's rule. Where do the ethics lie, for example, when parishioners offering sanctuary to asylum seekers in their church tell the enquiring Border Force patrol that there are no refugees there?

Nevertheless, the general principle is sound — we are social creatures who make real decisions based on the representations of others.

Photo: AIM network

The problem is doubly acute when those who lie to us are those whom we have trusted to represent us in making decisions on how we are governed and have voted for them based on what turns out to be a false prospectus.

The answer usually given is that we should then vote for someone else next time.

This, however, is where Kant's problem really hits home. Both sides of politics know that we have come to accept lies from politicians and therefore neither side is necessarily inclined to play it straight with us.

That, however, means that we cannot know whether to believe either side's election promises.

Since the power of the local MP has long since become subordinated to the machinery of pre-selection committees, factions and party rooms, we have absolutely no idea what we are getting. Elections become a random choice between brands.

This is another (mostly unexpressed) reason why increasing numbers of voters in Australia, Europe and the US are becoming frustrated with 'establishment' politicians.

While one should be careful what one wishes for when it comes to specific anti-establishment candidates, this shedding of complaisance and suspicion of business as usual is probably the only thing that can save democratic structures.

As I have noted before, the advent of big money in modern politics and the lack of controls on that money in what used to be described as democracies mean that even the limited information which the brand names themselves used to provide are now pretty meaningless.

Major parties and institutions of all political stripes around the world are beholden to interests which, as this week's leak of the Panama Papers reminds us, exist in a world wide web of big money far beyond the control (or even the knowledge) of the average voter.

Voters' tacit acceptance of lying as a fact of political life — if it continues — is just one more nail in the coffin of democracy.

Eureka St, Apr 06, 2016

Justin Glyn SJ is studying for the priesthood. Previously he practised law in South Africa and New Zealand and has a PhD in administrative and international law.

[Posted: Apr 15]


'We're on the move - are you?' / .. and one of it's key speakers, Ursula Rakova

Climate Justice Speaking Tour

'Friends of the Earth Australia' announce important speaking events in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria in coming weeks.

'We're on the move - are you?' features key speakers from the Pacific's low lying atolls and the implications for climate justice in an Australian context.

Full details: click here

[Apr 07]


Click for the web sites of Tulele Peisa and Friends of the Earth Australia


Freedom Stories

Recommended by RCOA.

[Apr 01]

A quick reminder from the Refugee Council of Australia about 'a fantastic new film': 'Freedom Stories'..

RCOA reports; 'Freedom Stories is an exploration by filmmaker Steve Thomas of the achievements and struggles of former ‘boat people’.  Come and meet the people who sought and gained asylum in Australia back in 2001 - understand the obstacles they have overcome, share their pain and celebrate their strength and success'

There has never been a more important time to come together and make this year’s rally the biggest yet! 

Palm Sunday rallies

Once again public rallies in support of refugees and asylum seekers are being held across Australia.

The Refugee Council of Australia reports:
Palm Sunday has become the major date on the refugee rights movement’s calendar.

'Last year, tens of thousands across Australia marched to demand justice for asylum seekers and refugees.'

RCOA director, Paul Power, is addressing the Springwood NSW rally.

[Mar 19]


Myanmar's new president, U Htin Kyaw / Vice-President Henry Van Thio

New leaders and hope for Myanmar

Following the recent general elections in Myanmar, new presidential leadership has been established.

Parliament voting results were:
New President: U Htin Kyaw 360 votes
Vice President (1): General Myint Swe 213 votes
Vice President (2): Henry Van Thio 79 votes

President U Htin Kyaw has been a long-time member of the National League for Democracy and trusted associate of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whilst Vice-President Henry Van Thio is a committed Christian.

[Mar 17]

Myanmar Times reports:
" The NLD’s overwhelming majority in the two combined houses of parliament ensured that U Htin Kyaw, a 69-year-old academic and long-time aide of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, would become the NLD leader’s proxy president to succeed ex-general U Thein Sein whose five-year term ends on March 30.

'Today's result is a triumph for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,' U Htin Kyaw told reporters before getting into his car and leaving parliament following the vote.

Ex-General U Myint Swe, the military’s candidate, was elected first vice president with 213 votes. The appointed military bloc in parliament holds 166 seats, 25 percent of the total, while the military-backed USDP led by the outgoing has 41 seats in the two houses.

Henry Van Thio, an NLD upper house MP and an ethnic Chin Christian, was elected second vice president with 79 votes.

U Htin Kyaw with Aung San Suu Kyi during the time of her extended house arrest


Pacific Climate Watch

The Marist Province committee for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPICC) advises of a new web site highlighting the plight of Pacific and other maritime countries in the face of climate change.

Pacific Climate Watch is the initiative of combined religious groups, including Marists,

Whilst still in a stage of development, you can visit the site: click here (some images below)

[Mar 15]



The three sinners

Fr Jim Carty's homily locates sending the children back...

Fr Jim Carty SM


Fr Jim's homily given at St Patrick's, Church Hill, NSW. Mass, 5th Sunday of the Year, 2016isia

We are familiar with these threes: the three tenors, the three amigos, the three sisters, the three Musketeers, the stooges.

Today in the three readings we meet the three sinners.

Isaiah: “I am a man of unclean lips”

St Paul “ I persecuted the Church of God.”

St Peter “I am a sinful man.”

They acknowledged their sins, received forgiveness and responded with faithfulness and paid the consequence.

We can all relate to the three sinners- we are conscious of our own personal failings and acknowledge them each time we attend mass-at the beginning we ask for forgiveness and promise a firm purpose of amendment, to try and do better.  

When we can, we avail ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Each refers to his personal sin-

But, what about the idea of Social sin or in other words the collective responsibility or guilt of a community or a Nation in some action that is immoral? Like slavery, like the Jewish Holocaust, like torture?

Sending children back...
It is timely to consider this question in the light of the High Court decision handed down last Wednesday about the legality of sending children back to Nauru island detention centre.

On Wednesday the High Court made clear that it is in no position to question the retrospective law passed by the Commonwealth Parliament on 30 June 2015, authorising the Australian Government to do whatever it takes to assist countries like Nauru with the detention of asylum seekers sent there by Australia as of 18 August 2012.

It should be noted that up until the 30th June 2015 (last year) it was illegal under Australia law- the Supreme Court said that the Commonwealth acted beyond its executive power by enforcing the case of M68, the lead case taken to the Court on behalf of the 267 Asylum seeker including 37 babies, to return to Nauru.

Now with the stroke of a pen and a retrospective law it makes it legal- once we send them there they are under the law of a virtually bankrupt state with no proper functioning judiciary.

Technically/legally we have no responsibility under their law for their well being except that we pick up the enormous tab for all the costs. It is indeed a legal fiction-

Until last Wednesday it was unlawful, now its lawful, but the question remains is it moral?

One of our well-regarded secular prophets in Australia, Hugh McKay, had this to say:

“Moral blindness is, of course, a very contemporary problem as well.

With the encouragement of leaders on both sides of politics, we risk becoming morally blind to our responsibilities towards those who have come here as refugees seeking asylum.

We can tiptoe around this and speak of human rights abuses, or a failure to honour our international treaty obligations.

But why mince words in the face of the intentional brutality – psychological and physical – being inflicted by Australia on asylum-seekers, including children, imprisoned in our offshore detention centres?

Why not call our asylum-seeker detention policy what it is: immoral.”

Fr Frank Brennan, highly regarded legal professor wrote

“The moral depravity of Australian funded and orchestrated holding of asylum seekers, including children, on Nauru and Manus Island is to continue.”

We return to the question of Social Sin- sinful actions of a group, a community a nation:

In his encyclical on social justice, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Pope John Paul II says "social sin" or "structural sin" proceeds from the accumulation of personal sins. It is, says the Pope, "a question of a moral evil, the fruit of many sins which lead to 'structures of sin.'"


[go to top of next column].


In countries and societies where the demands of social justice are recognised, there is also a growing consciousness of political, economic and social elements in society, and even sometimes in religious institutions, that oppress the poor, aid and abet racism and intolerance, treat asylum seekers and other members of society harshly and in- humanely; endorse a free market that operates on effective demand and not on human need, do grave damage to the environment, and so on.

Such unjust social structures and institutions are what is called ‘social sin’.

(Gap between the rich and the poor-Oxfam survey: 64 Individuals have the equivalent wealth of over half of the total population of the world.)

The notion of social sin, therefore, must not lead to underestimating the responsibility of individuals involved. Social sin, as the Pope puts it, thus makes an appeal to the consciences of us all.

There are two very uncomfortable questions we must answer, because truthful answers are will be very uncomfortable:

  1. Is it ever justified to torture a child? No ifs or buts; is it ever justifiable to torture a child? Whatever the reason- does the end ever justify the means?  

A possible scenario:

For a moment I invite you to imagine that you are a guard on Nauru and a small 6 year-old child approaches  and asks why she with her family are being locked up in this terrible place? She tells you that her mother is so depressed that she tried to harm herself by drinking detergent, her father had to be restrained by the guards because after more than two years on Nauru he had lost all hope for us and our future.

The little girl continues – I have not committed any crime nor has my family. I have done nothing to deserve to be punished like this.  The psychiatrists, the doctors and counsellors who have been here all report that what is being done to my family and me amounts to emotional and physical torture. So please Mr Guard, could you tell me is it ever justifiable to torture a child? What are the circumstances that would justify torturing me and all the other children here on Nauru?

You reply with avuncular concern:

My Government wants to stop the boats like the one that brought you to Australia; it wants to stop the evil people smugglers bringing any more people to Australia like those to whom your parents payed their savings; and thirdly my Government has put in place rigorous defence systems to protect our Sovereign Boarders from people like you.  In a word it’s called “deterrence”.

It means that no more people especially children like you will drown at sea and that’s good for them.

Unfortunately not so good for children like you- but think of it this way, we are being cruel to be kind. While you and other children here in Nauru suffer, self-harm and despair, we are saving others including children from drowning. And that’s good.

As the little child turns to go back to her family sweltering in the 55 degree heat of their shared military tent – she says, but you haven’t answered my question; “is it ever justified to torture a child?”

Are we as Australians complicit in what our Government is imposing on the children- are we morally responsible for what is happening on Nauru?

To the extent that we contribute by support or inaction we are complicit in what is clearly immoral- the torture of children- it is never justified to torture a child.

Since the source of "social sin" or "structural sin" is personal sin, the solution to it rests with our personal actions.

We must do more than change "the system," as important as that may be.

We must change ourselves.

(Homily given at St Patrick's, Church Hill, NSW. 3 pm Mass, 5th Sunday of the Year, 2016)

[Posted: Feb 10]


Nauru protests

Thousands of citizens are aghast at the Commonwealth Governments's decision to include small children and babies amongst the asylum seekers to be returned to Nauru after medical care in Australia.

Amnesty International is among the many who are protesting and offers a practical way to respond...

Click here for their peitition

[Feb 09]


Lenten Carbon Fast calendar

Sr Sharon Price RSM, Exec Director of CLRI (NSW) reminds us:

'As Lent begins next week, CLRI(NSW) Social Justice Committee provides a Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar for your congregational members to encourage mindfulness during Lent.

'Pope Francis has implored us to prepare for Easter by practicing the works of mercy. This calendar will act as our guide to spreading mercy to both people and the planet, in order to protect and preserve God’s creation.'        Click here to download

[Feb 05]