Catholic Weekly

2 November 2003


Christ’s message holds key, says Cardinal Pell

New cardinal-electors

Cardinal is ‘honoured and delighted’

New managing editor for Catholic Weekly

Wiggles help Vinnies

Change to super laws rejected

Service commemorates Night of broken glass

Don’t leave HSC study to the last minute

Poverty forum call

Italians come clean over holy water

‘Don’t change Medicare’

Hope on Smokey Mountain

New dean of education

‘Give generously’ appeal call

Passion added to atmosphere for players

Mother Teresa

Editorial: Be not afraid

Letters: Biblical errors?

Conversation: Donna Mulhearn, human shield and crusader for kids - Back to Iraq with ‘lots of love, hugs and care’

The freedom of God

Jesus ‘Lord and healer’

Oath of Fidelity

Sandhills and history

The Italian connection

New deal for deaf high school students

New college Campus

US post

115 years in the sun

Rose Bay victory

Life of the ageing priest

Companions on a Redemptorist’s journey to his final vows

‘Richest year of my life’


The Italian connection

Bishop David Cremin (right), episcopal vicar for immigration in the Sydney archdiocese, at the Sydney launch with (from left) Fr Maurizio Pettenà, Capuchin Fr Romano Franchini, Scalabrinian Frs Victor Basso, Dominic Ceresoli and Fr Anthony Paganoni and Benedictine Fr Alberic Jacovone.

By Damir Govorcin

“Support for policies of multiculturalism and respect for cultural difference could risk becoming empty rhetoric unless accompanied by understanding and appreciation of the complexity involved in the mix of differences within our world,” says Fr Anthony Paganoni.

Fr Anthony, a Scalabrinian and episcopal vicar for migrants in the archdiocese of Perth, has written a book, Valiant Struggles and Benign Neglect: Italians, Church and Religious Societies in Diaspora. The Australian Experience from 1950 to 2000, which has been launched in both Melbourne and Sydney.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Scalabrinian missionaries in Australia, the book analyses the dynamic relationship between Italian migrants, the Church and religious organisations in a variety of settings: in North and South America before World War I, in some northern European countries after World War II and particularly in Australia between 1950 and 2000.

“As a member of a missionary society, the Scalabrinians, a society which devotes its energies to the pastoral care of migrants, I have personally opted for concerning myself with people and with events as they happen and evolve, while at the same time investing time in study, reflection and publication,” said Fr Anthony.

“This mix of field work and reflective analysis had led me to believe over the course of time that unless diversity is given recognition and positive affirmation, it is destined to suffer a fate like that of sunken treasures at sea.

“However, in the case of forgotten human heritage, the stakes are much higher.

“If this heritage is condemned to oblivion, the loss will be irreparable and deeply damaging in human terms, not to mention in the loss of opportunities for enhancing the possibilities of world peace.”

At the book’s Melbourne launch, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Archbishop Denis Hart, said: “In an Australia which is challenged at the very basis of Christianity, the sense of the sacred, the continuity of faith, the involvement of the whole person in religion, which are proud and wonderful legacies which Italian Australians have brought here, may well be the factors which will save the Church from eclipse.

“Multiculturalism, whether demographic, political or ecclesiastical, seeks to establish a balance between the demands of overall group cohesion and intercultural diversity.

“Fr Tony’s thesis is that the Church has failed to give sufficient attention to the cultural diversity, to nourish it and to enable Australia to be enriched by it.”

He added: “It is my strong contention that we have not paid enough attention at parish level to the possibilities of enrichment which come from the communities that arrive in our midst.

“Too little attention has been given to that enrichment, particularly when migrant groups initially are few in number.

“My own practical experience with Italian migrants over the last 20 years would underline the link between Church, family, community and culture, which are a tremendous enrichment to a parish, which has not been readily accepted by people from other cultures.

“Perhaps only now, after the Italians have done the trailblazing, can we hope that other more recent arrivals will be met with greater sympathy.”