Letters: Matter of habit
Sr Catherine Thom RSJ argues in Back in habits? (Letters, CW 4/11) that “Vatican II mandated reform of religious life in the 1960s”.
Accordingly, she believes bishops will have little success in getting nuns to return to the habit and live only in community in convents.
Vatican II did mandate some reform of religious life, with an aim to renewing and enriching this way of life. But it did not permit the types of changes Sr Catherine encourages.
For example, the Statement of Conclusions, approved by the Pope and released following meetings between Australian bishops and Roman authorities in 1998, stated that religious leaving convents and monasteries to live singly “fragments the life and witness” of the religious order.
The Statement expected religious to return to community living. Most religious have sadly chosen to ignore the Holy Father’s request.
As for wearing a habit, the Holy Father has repeatedly urged religious to return to it. This appeal has largely fallen on deaf ears. It is telling that congregations who proudly wear their religious habit seem to have good success in attracting vocations.
If Sr Catherine wants to be true to the reforms of Vatican II, she will immediately put her veil back on and urge her superiors to return all her religious sisters back to community living in convents.
Dr Elena Borg
SCHOOL FEE PLEA
As parents of three children who receive a Catholic education, the rise in school fees is not welcomed. It follows the negative impact of the GST and inflation!
The Church must become more militant in demanding more financial help from the Government as education should be basically free for all. You talk about making a sacrifice. It is much more than that; actually it is using funds which we have not earned yet – credit.
The Catholic Education Office should also encourage all Catholic schools to diminish the accessory extras and not expect families to participate in fund-raising activities.
We are not made of gold!
A negative consequence of this rise will be that we will have to reduce our financial contributions to our parish drastically. Sometimes, like the Government, the Church demands too much financially from its families.
Father Brian Gore’s recent lecture in Goulburn once again challenged us as Christians to “stand up and be counted” and also be active in the light of the terrible state in which the poor nations of the world find themselves.
This is due mostly to the indulgence of the Western world at their expense. To do nothing is simply to acquiesce.
We need to ask ourselves truthfully: What are we doing locally in our parish communities and also what can we do to make a difference to make our voices heard?
I believe our pastors should be speaking to us regularly – not just once a year – about social justice, human rights and of our duty to our disadvantaged brothers and sisters, who include the poor, the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the prisoner or detainee and the stranger or refugee.
We need to see Jesus not only in the golden chalice at Mass, but also in the dispossessed, remembering always that he was also a refugee.
As my parish priest said recently, perhaps September 11 was our final wake-up call.
Afghans came to Australia in the 19th century and, as able exponents of the camel craft, opened up the dead heart of this dry continent.
They gave that those in the Never Never might live. Their arduous labour was commendable. A later generation is now regarded as the new untouchables.
Self-preservation has been the motivation for the present Afghan population to seek a haven on our hostile shores.
Instead of a shelter they have met with a detention centre and its associated wrongs.
While Afghans are forced by horrendous circumstances in their homeland to flee to the Great South Land, our leaders are divorced from the realty of Samaritan aid and humanitarian pleas: their aim is political gain.
Since the end of World War II, Australia has had a record of generosity to refugees. Yet it has taken an unusually tough line against hundreds of asylum seekers, mostly victims of harshly repressive regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At a time of apprehension about terror, it has been all to easy to demonise people who are themselves victims.
As a nation we pride ourselves on following the rule of law, but we have at times denied refugees access to courts where the question of rights can be examined dispassionately.
We accept that ultimately the international refugee crisis can only be relieved by seeking international solutions ... by policies that seek to establish a fairer world.
The newly elected government would do well to reconsider this nation’s policy with regard to refugees and asylum seekers. Indeed, all Australians should commit themselves to reasserting our historic concern for a compassionate approach to people fleeing persecution and terror.
Let it be known that Australia remains a tolerant and humane country.
Rev Tim Costello