Plenary voices: Bishop Terence Brady

We are called to respond practically and in tenderness to those who are vulnerable and, as Pope Francis has urged, to stop being preoccupied with ourselves and go out into the streets as missionary disciples, Bishop Terry Brady has told the Plenary

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Bishop Terry Brady leads a memorial prayer service in Elizabeth Bay in July for the homeless who have died over the last year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Outreach to the poor and vulnerable

Pope Francis reminds us to stop being preoccupied with ourselves and go out into the streets as missionary disciples. The goal of mission is not the perfection or expansion of the church but the realisation of God’s love as demonstrated by the Good Samaritan who acts as a true neighbour. This is the “criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project” (Fratelli Tutti, 69). This moves us via “the love made possible by God’s grace” to respond to our sister or brother in need, whoever they are, wherever they may come from (FT, 49, 72).

We are called to respond practically and in tenderness to those who are vulnerable: those dispossessed of land and culture, the unborn, disabled, frail elderly, refugees, the trafficked, those with mental illness, the homeless and those who are marginalised. The Australian church is a church of immigrants and therefore ought to recognise and must respond to support migrants. We should use our privilege and our voice to influence society with regard to the distress caused by our immigration policy and our government’s refusal to acknowledge the rights of refugees and boat people.

A church that promotes social justice must advocate against mandatory and long term detention of asylum seekers.

We need to be a persistent voice for climate refugees, particularly those of Oceania who watch their homelands destroyed by rising waters. Responding to the needs of those displaced because of climate-related catastrophes is “at the heart of being a credible and witnessing church, a caring and inclusive ecclesial community”.

Relatively comfortable urban parishes could accept the challenge of partnering with other parishes to help vulnerable groups and those on the periphery of society (locally, regionally, in remote areas and overseas).

Establishing a national approach to parish outreach and support programs catering to the needy, vulnerable and marginalised would be a pragmatic and efficient strategy; as would making meaningful connections with other local faith communities and agencies in support of the vulnerable. Making dormant properties available to provide housing to those in need could also be among the suite of pragmatic responses that our faith must surely elicit from us if we are truly to recognise“a compelling sign of God’s presence in the lives and conditions of the poor and marginalised in society”.

[1] Pope Francis: Human selfishness is creating millions of climate change refugees’’, America, March 30, 2021.

[1] Instrumentum Laboris, 98.