The nights in Canberra are becoming chilly, and I am conscious that this is now what awaits us, as Anzac Day typically marks the end of our warmer weather. The bite of Winter awaits us!
I am conscious of writing this message on Anzac Day and of all that this means for us in Australia and New Zealand. This day follows from the 2nd Sunday of Easter, wherein the Gospel reading from John (20:19-31), Jesus enters the locked room with the words, “Peace be with you.” As he utters these words to a fearful group of disciples, he shows them his wounds. It is through his wounds and words of peace that Jesus breathes on them and says, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”
There they were locked away, confused, and not knowing what to do. They were in a ‘tomb’, immobilised and frightened, and yet Jesus enters their lives again and gives them life, so much so that the ‘tomb’ becomes a ‘womb’, a womb of new life and promise.
I wonder how many of us presently feel trapped in a tomb of not knowing what to do with our personal lives, or within the life of our Church. How many of us are like Thomas, not believing that Jesus is alive and with us, and sending us out into the world?
These thoughts are with me as we journey towards our Federal Election, as we continue to witness the war in Ukraine, as we struggle with some of our own personal anxieties, as we wonder where God is.
I invite you to read the Federal Election Kit links provided in this week’s Dio Update. They do not tell us who to vote for, but they provide us with the background to help to continue to form our questions and thinking when considering what we and our politicians need to be concerned about.
At the beginning of the Election Statement for 2022 Towards a Better Kind of Politics, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference write:
- We all long for what Pope Francis calls “a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good” for all Australians.
- The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reveal our need for a human-centred economy that allows all people to flourish and provides them the support they and their families need.
- In Australia, there remain insufficient responses to the needs of vulnerable people in our community such as those in need of palliative care, aged care, First Nations people, asylum-seekers and refugees, and those in poverty.
- We reaffirm our endorsement of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for recognition of First Nations Australians in the Constitution and a First Nation “Voice” to the Australian Parliament.
- Our physical world is under significant environmental pressure that can be addressed by a new integral ecology that seeks to care for our land and our people.
- People who have religious faith need protection from discrimination including the ability to undertake activities and form religious bodies that can pursue their religious mission. This includes commonsense provisions to allow religious schools to preference the hiring of staff who support the school’s ethos. Catholic schools educate one in every five Australian students.
In previous messages from me you have heard me speak about the Principles of Catholic Social Teaching (Human Dignity, Common Good, Subsidiarity and Solidarity), as well as our involvement in the Hunter Community Alliance, and our work with other community groups and organisations seeking to participate in, and develop a stronger civil society. The statements above also very much reflect the recommendations made at the Second Session of our Diocesan Synod in May of 2021.
These words form A Prayer for the Election from this Election Statement:
God of this land and of every people,
who shape all things according to your own design
and write your law in every human heart:
we thank you for this country we call home,
from the First Nations people to others born here
and those you have gathered from across the earth.
We pray for the citizens of our land in this troubled time,
that we may be committed to justice,
to the dignity of each human life,
and to solidarity with all Australians and with the world.
Guide all who seek election to serve the nation;
may the Holy Spirit inspire them to pursue a better politics
that is wise and courageous and governs for the good of all.
May all of us see and hear you in the most vulnerable,
that we may respond to the cry of the earth
and the cry of the poor,
that we may respond to you.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
"Let us help one another, instead, to pass from partisanship to participation; from committing ourselves to supporting our party alone to engaging ourselves actively for the promotion of all.
From partisanship to participation. This is what should motivate our actions, on a variety of fronts. I think of the climate, the pandemic, the common market and, above all, the widespread forms of poverty. These are challenges that call for concrete and active cooperation. The international community needs this, in order to open up paths of peace through a multilateralism that will not end up being stifled by excessive nationalistic demands. Politics needs this, in order to put common needs ahead of private interests." (Pope Francis, Apostolic Journey to Cyprus and Greece,4 Dec 2021)
We are fortunate to live in a democracy and to be free to use our ability to vote wisely by being informed. Please continue to read and think about the significant issues which face us, and our world.