11 July 2013


Following a 'Dialogue on Faith and Protection' convened by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in December 2012, an inter-religious drafting group was asked to reflect on common principles, shared among religious traditions, which foster the protection, nurturing, and acceptance of persons who have been forcibly displaced.

The resulting document included 16 pledges to be made by Leaders of Faith Communities regarding the duty of their respective religious traditions to welcome the strange, and a brief listing of religious principles that support this common understanding.

The document calls for steps to be taken to combat xenophobia (outright attacks, for example) or dehumanization (references to "illegals", for example) of forcibly displaced people. In sharing the document the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to The UN in Geneva, Monsignor Tomasi stated that it provides an opportunity for bishops, pastors, principals and administrators of Catholic institutions to affirm that welcoming the stranger is a moral duty, for themselves and the entire community of faith.

The document is available on the website of the International Catholic Migration Commission


The theme for the 2013 NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week  in Australia this month is "We value the vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963" which marks the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Yirrkala Bark Petitions to the Federal Parliament.

In 1963 the Yolngu people of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land prepared two bark petitions protesting the Commonwealth’s granting of mining rights on land excised from Arnhem Land reserve and sought the recognition by the Australian Parliament of the Yolngu peoples’ traditional rights and ownership of their lands.

The Bark Petitions are seen as being a catalyst in advancing changes to the Constitution in the 1967 referendum, the statutory acknowledgment of Aboriginal land rights by the Commonwealth in 1976, and the overturning of the obstacle of the concept of terra nullius by the High Court in the Mabo Case in 1992 that recognised the traditional rights of the Meriam people to their islands in the eastern Torres Strait.

Earlier this year the Australian Federal Government agreed to hold a national referendum to amend Australia’s Constitution to recognise its First Peoples and reflect the principle of racial equality.

Visit the Recognise website to learn more about this opportunity to show respect to the First Peoples and ensure their fair treatment.


“While we’re happy that the G8 acknowledges aggressive tax avoidance and profit shifting is a problem, they failed to agree to curtail it in any meaningful way” commented a Global Financial Integrity representative at the conclusion of last months G8 summit meeting in Ireland.

Progress at the summit was limited with certain G8 countries - such as the US - putting up strong resistance to change.

Whilst there was agreement on a broad set of principles there was little commitment to any practical action which suggests that real progress in tightening up the global regime is going to be painfully slow.

Prior to the summit a joint letter from Catholic bishops from the G8 nations urged leaders to fight poverty by addressing tax evasion.

"By asking first how a given policy will affect the poor and the vulnerable, you can help assure that the common good of all is served. As a human family we are only as healthy as our weakest members."

"We pray your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables you to take steps to improve nutrition, reduce hunger and poverty, and strengthen just tax, trade and transparency policies for the common good of all"
the bishops said.


Leaders of the major religious groups in Australia, including Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist representatives, have issued a joint interfaith statement in advance of the forthcoming election calling for the Australian Government to continue to act to address climate change issues.

Noting the latest warnings of the likelihood of a 4 degree Celsius rise in temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the letter urges action to address "one of the most urgent moral issues facing us".

The letter also notes that much of the world is already moving to take strong preventative action with ninety countries, representing 90 per cent of global emissions, having carbon reduction programs in place. Whilst Australia now has price on carbon the letter points out that Australia continues to be a significant contributor to the problem both as a source of carbon emissions and as a major coal exporter, and urges a wind back of coal exports and a greater reliance on renewable energy.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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