Recent Addresses and Pastoral Letters

Address given at the launch of the papers relating to the Review, Reimagine, Renew Conference at the Cardinal Knox Centre

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My friends Gabrielle McMullen, Patrice Scales and Denis Fitzgerald have put together what I consider a remarkable publication of the papers delivered at the Review, Reimagine, Renew Conference in February.

The papers are more than an anthology of Catholic social action and teaching, beginning with the skilful reflection of John Allen on the work of Pope Francis, which highlights his passion for the peripheries, a missionary concept of the Church and mercy as the cornerstone spiritual message the world needs to hear from the Church at this moment.

The Forum which Maria Harries led on how mission can make a difference was also of tremendous practical value in implementation of the Gospel in relationship with Government and community.

It is not surprising that Father Frank Brennan, who has recently taken up an appointment as CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia, writes with great force and clarity on the whole question of migration. Many of us, I think, were deeply moved by the tragic pictures of people trudging through countries to try and achieve a home in Europe from the war-torn Middle East. In similar vein, Julian McMahon tells of his important advocacy for prisoners, while Julie Edwards unites heart and head in our undertaking mission.

Many of you I am sure are aware of the real challenges presented by family violence: Patrice Scales has led a wonderful forum asking the questions as to how the Church can make a difference in this terrible challenge.

I welcome the work done by Gabrielle McMullen with Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald and Maria Harries from the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, on addressing and preventing sexual abuse.

What really touched me was the work of Tony Nicholson, Ricky Jeffrey, Marcelle Mogg, and Lisa MacDonald, who rightly said that we don’t just have a hospital with a mission, rather we have a mission with a hospital.

All of these papers are of tremendous value in helping us to see where we are placed in the midst of our society and how as a leaven in that society with a particular vision of the human person and an awareness that the people who are most vulnerable are those who should receive our first attention.

I pay special tribute to the Editors – Gabrielle McMullen, Patrice Scales and Denis Fitzgerald – but also I recognise that this book and the far more living Conference which preceded it challenge us to think about what it means to be a Catholic ministry and what difference this makes to the communities that we serve. Or again, as Lisa MacDonald said: “When faith becomes active through love we form a community of people who have a mission impact far beyond the hours served.”

So I do thank the Editors and all who contributed to the magnificent Conference and who are reported in this book and I commend it to you as a very living manual of Catholic service in the community of today and of the witness of Jesus Christ, which we as his followers are called to give in a missionary Church. Congratulations and thank you - I now declare this book launched.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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