From this week’s Online Catholics:
Following Paula McLeod’s article last week, Rise Up for a Just Church, several comments were made to me which have been encapsulated in this week’s letter, Some help please! from Fr Sanchez, of Brisbane: basically that people would like to write – but to whom and what needs to be said?
In the specific case of Redfern, Cardinal George Pell, and the parish priest, Fr Gerard Prindiville, would head the list. Other possibilities include Archbishop Philip Wilson (Adelaide), as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and Archbishop Barry Hickey (Perth), the chair of the new Bishops’ Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. If you want to go further, other Bishops could include Christopher Toohey (Justice and Service), Eugene Hurley (Pastoral Life) and Michael Malone (Church Ministry). And, of course, there is always your local Bishop.
To offer support to the local Aboriginal community, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Catholic Council (NATSICC) might be able to offer some assistance or provide the names of local contacts.
An excellent source for information about the Catholic Church in Australia normally is the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference site within the Church portal. While it is not up-to-date with the new structure of the ACBC, unfortunately, it will give you easy access to emails and postal addresses for all the Bishops.
As to what to say, Paula has suggested that in relation to Redfern, essentially the point to make to our Bishops is that all of the communities within a diocese “have a place at the table”. All must be heard from and accounted for, and each one must show consideration for the rest and for the good of the entire church.
She says that Redfern is not just an administrative unit of a larger entity. It is a gathering of Christians in which the Spirit dwells. No parish should be more privileged than another. No parish is second-rate compared to others and should not be treated as such.
As a Catholic parish Redfern shares “true equality in dignity and action whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ”. (excerpts taken from an excellent summary by Future Church of parish rights and obligations at www.futurechurch.org/sopc/parishrightsandobligations.htm)
She says that this website also has links to sample letters to bishops on a range of topics.
It is important when writing such letters that you make your point clearly, briefly and without allowing the emotion that has generated the letter-writing to dominate. You do not want to give the impression of being impolite or unreasoned. It is also important that you express what you want to say in your own words. While this can be more difficult for some people, it is worth the effort as your opinion comes across much more genuinely to the recipient of the communication.
If you need further help, then your local social justice group / diocesan commission might be useful.
It is important that we communicate with our Bishops.