Latest Cathedral News
CATHEDRALS AND CHURCHES AROUND AUSTRALIA OFFER SANCTUARY TO ASYLUM SEEKER FAMILIES FACING DEPORTATION TO NAURU
Brisbane’s St John’s Anglican Cathedral, amongst others, has been declared a place of sanctuary for asylum seekers facing deportation after yesterday’s High Court decision which allowed for their imminent removal to Nauru.
Anglican Dean of Brisbane, the Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt says he is declaring the church as a sanctuary, given the trauma and abuse these asylum seekers face if deported.
“The High Court’s decision means 267 people including 37 babies face imminent removal to Nauru. They could be issued notices at any time and ordered to leave Australia within 72 hours,” said Dr Catt.
“This is a hugely significant action for any Australian church to take. Historically churches have afforded sanctuary to those seeking refuge from brutal and oppressive forces.
“We offer this refuge because there is irrefutable evidence from health and legal experts that the circumstances asylum seekers, especially children, would face if sent back to Nauru are tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse,” said the Very Rev’d Dr Catt.
“This fundamentally goes against our faith, so our church community is compelled to act, despite the possibility of individual penalty against us”.
“It is an extraordinary step. It is a step that will attract the attention of church communities around the world.
“The ancient principle of sanctuary goes back to The Old Testament, and was enshrined in English Common Law. Where a state is causing grievous harm, churches can provide sanctuary and immunity from arrest by authorities. The legality of Sanctuary has never been tested under Australian law, nevertheless we are determined to apply its moral precepts and protect the most vulnerable from certain harm.”
Misha Coleman, Executive Officer for the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce, said that “Cathedrals that have offered to protect asylum seekers from deportation to a place where people face, rape, sexual assault, and unimaginable conditions, include: St John’s Cathedral Brisbane, St George’s Cathedral Perth, St David’s Cathedral Hobart and Christchurch Cathedral Darwin.
She also said that “many priests and vicars of local churches who feel compelled to provide the moral leadership that their position requires, have also offered Sanctuary. These include: St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church; Darlington, WA; Perth Wesley Uniting Church; Gosford Anglican Church; Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide; St. John’s Uniting Church Essendon; Paddington Anglican Church, Pitt Street Uniting Church and the Wayside Chapel in Sydney. Many other churches have offered to support the Sanctuaries in various ways”.
The most recent additions to the West End Statue Project on display in St John’s:
James and John (Left)
Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany (Right)
Inspired by Westminster Abbey which has placed 20th century martyrs in place of the traditional arrangement of statues, The Chapter of St John’s Cathedral has resolved to likewise depart from the traditional arrangement of characters in the west end niches of the cathedral. Instead of the 13 individual characters the niches will house representations of 24 biblical characters who played significant roles in the story of Jesus. The arrangement has been designed to reflect the importance of some of the relationships the bible records: Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany are housed together, as are James and John, the sons of thunder; and Peter and Paul as the twin leaders of the evangelisation. Standing alone are the Christ at the centre, John the Baptiser as the forerunner and Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the apostles.
This project will see St John’s home to a unique collection of statues. It will confirm St John’s place as a significant place of pilgrimage and of interest to tourists.
You are invited to be part of this historic project.
It is possible to make a small contribution or to buy a statue outright for $45,000. All donors will be recorded in a high quality ledger. Donations over $10 000 will also be noted in the tourist ‘statues’ brochure that will be available in the Cathedral.
In early 2016 the statues will be placed in their niches in the cathedral west end joining the three previously completed stautes: The Christ/Holy Wisdom, Mary Magdalene and John the Baptiser.
No Business in Abuse is auspiced by The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce. Dean Peter Catt is the current chair of the Taskforce. The taskforce includes members from Nine National Churches.
Dean Peter is coordinating the Brisbane No Business in Abuse campaign. The campaign aims to have Brisbane City Council ensure that it is only dealing with companies that respect human rights.
The campaign instrument is a petition:
We the undersigned, as concerned members of your community, call on our local council to join us in demanding an end to Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield Services) and their security subcontractor, Wilson Security’s business in abuse.
By signing this petition, we:
1. Endorse the No Business in Abuse pledge, declaring that we will only support corporations, institutions and organisations that refuse to support or profit from abusive practices towards people seeking asylum. A corporation that is not abusive is one which:
– Has zero tolerance for child abuse;
– Respects people's fundamental rights to freedom from arbitrary and indefinite detention;
– Does not treat people in a cruel, inhumane or degrading manner;
– Commits to transparency and independent monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld.
2. Call on our local council to endorse the No Business in Abuse pledge and take concrete steps to ensure that they do not engage in business relationships with Broadspectrum or Wilson Security, the corporations known to be complicit in gross human abuses occurring in Australia’s offshore detention camps.
St John's Cathedral Brisbane, in conjunction with Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, is pleased to announce the establishment of the Queensland Conservatorium/St John¹s Cathedral Organ Scholarship. Under the generous provisions of the F.W. and E.G. Harmer Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Organ Scholar will be a full member of the music department of St John¹s Cathedral, developing skills as a liturgical musician through playing for services and supporting the various choirs of St John¹s, while studying at the Queensland Conservatorium.For further details, and information on how to apply, download the flyer here.
The Cathedral coin collection is located in the ambulatory near the Holy Spirit Chapel. It contains a permanent collection of 110 coins dating from the 6th century BCE to the present. Coin 111 is changed on a regular basis to honour significant historical events. The current coin 111 honours the signing of the Magna Carta.
This year is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215 and the ₤2 coin on display as coin 111 was issued by the United Kingdom in celebration. Most people think that the Magna Carta involved only the barons and the king but the Church was very much involved, especially the archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.
On the coin King John is seated between a bishop and a knight. Presumably the bishop is Stephen Langton and the knight is William Marshall, the earl of Pembroke, who was the leader of the barons. The king holds a quill and a roll of parchment. Actually kings at this time did not sign documents with a quill: an assistant would affix the royal seal to the document. Part of a building is shown above the three figures on the coin, but actually the event occurred in a meadow at Runnymede in Surrey.
A number of copies of the document sealed by King John at Runnymede on 10th June 2015 were made and sent to cathedrals. Today there are only four extant copies of this document: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum. The Magna Carta was written in Medieval Latin and a translation of the first clause is The English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired. The meaning of this was that the Church could elect its officers without interference by the king.
The moral imperative of climate action
Religious leaders call for deep carbon cuts and a rapid shift to renewable energy.
On Monday, the General Synod of the Church of England will likely pass two motions calling for urgent and bold action against climate change. The first urges all governments at the Paris Climate Negotiations to take bold action by transitioning to a low-carbon future and encourages the church to actively engage with the climate change issue, and the second affirms the recent decision to disinvest from coal and oil sands as a tactic to address the climate crisis.
As Anglican leaders of Australia and South Africa – two countries that have found themselves on the front lines of climate change – we celebrate these important and timely calls for climate action, based on our moral imperative to care for all of God's creation and the most vulnerable among us.
Both Australia and South Africa are already experiencing the negative impacts of rising global temperatures. Australia is one of the highest per capita carbon emitters in the world – we've seen double the amount of record hot days over the last 50 years, an increase in the frequency and intensity of weather events, a rising sea level, and further endangerment of our fragile coral reef and marine ecosystems. The story is similar in South Africa, where temperatures have risen over 1.5 times the global average over the past half century and are predicted to rise by 3-6 degrees Celcius in some areas by 2100.
Monday's motions of the Church of England – together with Pope Francis' ecology encyclical and many other faith voices – serve as a reminder that we have a moral responsibility to act on climate change. This message reminds us all that climate change is about more than the political and economic debate that all too often dominates the headlines. Climate change is first and foremost a social and moral concern.
This piece by The Dean was first published in various Fairfax publications on Sunday 31st May, the first day of Reconciliation Week
When Michael Clarke took to the cricket field wearing a black armband it was seen as a positive act of solidarity. It was his way of honouring his killed-tragically friend, Phillip Hughes. And a powerful way of ensuring we would remember the never-to-be-forgotten 16th man. The use of the black armband was a mature way of dealing with emotional upheaval. It also played a role in inspiring the Australian cricket team towards their World Cup win.
The use of black armbands by sporting folk reminds us of their healing power.
This morning I woke to the news that Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six others had been executed in Indonesia.
I felt incredibly numb. And incredulous.
I could’t even begin to imagine the pain felt by their families.
I found myself wondering what must go through the minds of those involved and particularly those charged with pulling the trigger, flicking the switch, or injecting a lethal dose. Do they go numb themselves? Do they ever stop seeing the eyes of their victims in their dreams? Do they dehumanise the victim so that they can go through with the act of deliberated murder? Is their justification that they are ‘just following orders’? Does the justifying narrative they have woven for themselves hold up as the human being before them is blown apart? Do they end up suffering from PTSD?
The thing I find most disturbing about execution is the calculated nature of the exercise. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Indonesian officials have spent years caught up in the relentless journey to this day. It has been done according to the Rule of Law. Done by the book. Due process has been followed. Appeals heard. Clemency sought and denied. Ten years of focussed activity. State-sanctioned murder is an inhumane activity hidden beneath layers of civil order and procedure.
I am mindful of the fact that the people responsible are ordinary people just like me.
At present we are in the Easter Season, the season that proclaims that all that is death-dealing will be transformed by God who is life and love. As people of the resurrection we are called to be agents of God on earth.
So as the day has progressed I have found myself climbing out of the numbness of the early day towards an increased determination to work for a world characterised by love and justice. I have reminded myself that when Amnesty International began campaigning against the death penalty thirty years ago less than twenty nations had abandoned the death penalty. Today over 100 nations have abolished it. So in response to the state-sanctioned murder of the eight people in Indonesia I rededicate myself to continuing this important work.
This Opinion Piece by The Dean was published in The Brsbane Times for Palm Sunday:
The lie that we are separate individuals is dying; dying I hope, faster than the planet which is being destroyed by the fruits of that lie.
The lead poem in Walt Whitman's great work, Leaves of Grass, is titled Song of Myself. It begins with the words "I celebrate myself". These words make for a first impression that the poem is a self-serving or even narcissistic exercise. However the reader soon comes to appreciate that Whitman is really exploring the idea that what affects you affects me - and vice versa. His third line is "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you".
Whitman explores the territory surveyed by John Donne a few hundred years before him and by Mary Oliver in more recent times. John Donne stated that no one should view themselves as an island but as part of a continent,