Frank Cain, you’ve done it again

My name is Frank Cain and I have been a member of this community for around twenty years. I am proud to have played a part in the liturgy of the Message Stick and establishing the Mural at St Vincent’s last Sunday.
The Mural is a symbolic artistic gesture of the discernment of God’s beautiful face in creation. It conveys the words of the Vicar of Christ, or Christ’s representative, the late Pope John Paul II, stating that the Aboriginal people make up part of the Church of this country and recognizes their Catholicism as well as their own unique spirituality.

“The Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you (the indigenous Australians) have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others” Pope John Paul II Alice Springs 1986

These words are the justification for the existence of the Mural. It is not sacrilegious, as claimed by some, in any way, shape or form; neither is it a jape or joke as described in Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald article.

Some aspects of how the Mural came to be may be frowned upon by some, but this Church was not broken into by any parishioner as claimed in that article.

If some of us were to have broken into the Church as suggested – what a shame that we had to – because once upon a time we could walk freely in and out of this Church – especially on Saturday evenings when we were welcomed at Mass and not questioned if we were Catholic or eligible for Communion.

As Griffo said, we weren’t going against authority – we were making a statement that we were reclaiming the Church for the Aboriginal people of this parish and abroad, and to remind the Church that we are still here! And to remind the Church of the Pope’s words at Alice Springs in 1986 – “That in relation to Aboriginal Land Rights the Church still supports you (the Aboriginal people) today.”

The statement that we, the parishioners of Redfern, “won’t accept any sort of authority” (SMH) is wrong. The fact is that we do accept authority, particularly the authority given by Christ to question when authority fails to respect the truth or the people. And we remember that Christ spoke with authority on a par with the people, and not to them or at them.

It has also been said that the “freewheeling” parishioners at Redfern don’t express or respect a “disciplined spiritual authoritative regime”. Well, neither did Jesus Christ (e.g. Mark 2:23, Eating on Sabbath)

Salvation is not necessarily obtained through dogmatic rules and regulations. It can be obtained through caring for the sick, serving the poor, the needy, the oppressed, providing a voice for the marginalized, the down and out, the fringe dwellers and the outcasts. And providing basic human care and resources to people in need, as well as empowering and encouraging people to be independent and acknowledging “the human soul” in that respect. In John Paul II’s words “The greatest value to be achieved …. Is respect for the dignity and growth of the human person”.

We are not social workers or welfare workers making administrative and statistical assessments of people’s lives. And we are certainly not a medical team handing out contraceptives and syringes (as Cardinal Pell bluntly states in The Australian). Neither are we extremists in the community or visitors causing trouble and disrupting Masses (also claimed by Pell in the same article)

We are in fact liberal minded Catholics with a profound devotion to Christ through his teachings and through the Eucharist.

And we ask that the Church recognizes and respects the Mural for its theological and spiritual symbolism, its cultural nature and theme of reconciliation.

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