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Homily offered for Pentecost Sunday, 24th May 2015, by The Very Rev'd Dr Peter Catt.
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,
‘If it weren’t for Aldi this wouldn’t be happening’, The Dean of St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Dr Peter Catt, said.
‘It was a close thing.’
Last year the only chocolate egg to be seen at St John’s was the one pictured on the Cathedral’s notice board.
‘Last year we made the decision to abandon chocolate eggs after a fruitless search for eggs certified to be ‘slavery-free’’’, Dr Catt said
The Anglican Board of Mission has launched an Emergency Appeal following Cyclone Pam which hit Vanuatu on March 14, cutting communications and leaving communities across the islands with no infrastructure.
A State of Emergency has been being declared following the cyclone which left eight people confirmed dead when it hit the 65 islands with a total population of 267,000. The death toll is expected to rise significantly once communication is re-established with areas outside Port Villa, the capital city.
In this issue:
Helping Homeless Youth
Guest Speaker: The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO
Tuesday 5th May, 12.30pm
The funds raised this year at the luncheon will be directed to youth homelessness services provided by Anglicare Southern Queensland.
System To Detain Children Can’t Be Fixed: Church Taskforce Speaks out in Wake of Human Rights Commission Report on Children in Detention
At a time when the Australian Prime Minister has promised that “good government starts today”, the Australian Human Rights Commission releases a report calling for the Government to end placing children into immigration detention. But will the “new Tony” demonstrate his Christian values.
The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce today welcomed the release of The Forgotten Children by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), following the 2014 National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.
‘The findings of the Australian Human Rights Commission could not be clearer,’ said The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Chair of the Taskforce. ‘We are failing child asylum seekers in the most morally reprehensible way under the current regime of arbitrary and indefinite detention. We cannot ignore our responsibilities, and so we call for the immediate release of children from detention – and for those children on Nauru to be brought to the Australian mainland’.
Sister Brigid Arthur, Vice Chair of the Taskforce, noted that successive governments have failed to take heed of the lessons from the last AHRC report in 2004. ‘For ten years we have known about the devastating impact of prolonged detention on children, from severe mental ill-health, to developmental delays and lasting emotional and psychological trauma,’ Sister Brigid said. ‘The Taskforce has long advocated for all children in detention, but especially those without parents. That children without parents have no functioning guardianship arrangements, or independent advocate – another key finding of the Report – is a horrific indictment on our Government. These children are being punished for seeking asylum, and being denied the right to have someone who has their best interests at heart.”