Friday, 18 September 2015

My doubt in the men of the Church grew stronger than my faith in them.

To John Pavlovitz from Lisa Owen.  

I read with gratitude your human and soulful rewrite of  the Apostle’s Creed.

Soon I'll turn sixty and as this milestone draws near, I’ve made the momentous and heartbreaking decision to leave my Church.

Here I am the second last girl in the second row from the left. It was also my second year of school at St.Clement's, Bulleen. So many twos and later I'll be talking about the Second Vatican Council!

We borrowed the St.John's, Heidelberg supper rooms until our new school was built. Standing n the doorway was our one and only teacher for the first year of St.Clements. Though not much taller than me, she was force to be reckoned with. It was either 1961 or '62. There's that two again!

My life was all about being Catholic: Mass once a week, sometimes more; Catholic Primary School, Secondary School, Teacher’s College and then teaching in Catholic Schools. I also went on to become a business woman and activist and then, while running a Youth Mass Group playing rock music, writing our own prayers and improvising the Gospel. The oldies hated it but the church was always full of young people. I broke ranks by marrying a non-Catholic and adopted two Korean children who came to Mass with me every Sunday as well as going to Catholic schools.

My dedication to and faith in Catholicism was nourished by a devoted family, my parish community and inspirational nuns who shared with me their very well informed thoughts and ideas as well as the writings of the great philosophers and saints of the Church.

But the Church I was born into was about to face the most radical change of its 2,000 year history. The Second Vatican Council, which took place during the time of the sixties Peace Movement, brought with it the promise of a new, invigorated church, inspired by the influence of two visionaries. Pope John XX111 and Pope Paul V1 hoped to modernise Catholic teaching, giving it renewed impetus and meaning.

Recognising that the Peace Movement reflected an historic shift within our modern spiritual consciousness, the two Popes, John and Paul, determined to reassess the rigid culture and staunch teachings of the Catholic Church, hoping to move us toward a freer, more inclusive, more Christ-like and humane spirituality, while at the same time inspiring the world with Christ's core values of love, inclusion, acceptance, forgiveness and peace. These core values had inspired many of the Church's saints to bring love into the world and inspired an even greater number of ordinary folk to do good works of charity and compassion.

As my mother said at last year's Christmas dinner, our faith inspired us to support each other and to try to give solace and hope to those who were suffering. In a harsh world we provided a safe harbour of goodness and light, expecting nothing in return. Little did she know she was training me to become a Greenie!

One can see in this picture that these two inspired and saintly Popes, definitely had their work cut out for them!

Despite the overwhelming nature of the task of Vatican 2, when I was nine years old, many initiatives were being implemented in parish communities around the world. This is St.Clement of Rome Church, my family's parish in Bulleen. I was married in front of that alter and our daughter was Baptised there.

It was built according to the new Vatican 2 design in the round, physically manifesting a radical re-think of the experience of the Mass, with the congregation radiating in a circle out from the alter. The Cardinals of Vatican 2 wanted us to think of each other as the metaphorical body of Christ. The aim was to facilitate a move away from the falsely perceived  'magical' rite of the Mass and power structure of the Church's hierarchy, replacing it with an egalitarian, inclusive gathering 'around the table' of our spiritual 'family'.

 It was hoped that we would pray for and grow in love with each other as an intrinsic part of the spiritual mystery of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. We were to become equal with the clergy which would lead to a raising of the status of the laity. I think part of the idea, was to relieve the clergy of much of the managerial, administration and 'non clerical' ministeries.

I was in awe of our magnificent new church, which is one of the most beautiful of it's kind anywhere in the world.

But that was over fifty years ago and though Vatican 2 made a promising start, the conservative 'Pharisees' in the Church soon began to react and finally put their collective foot down.

We used to joke that in this picture of the Vatican 2 Synod there are many dresses but no women. Both Popes had hoped to modernise the dress code and deal with the Church's horrendous gender inequality but unfortunately they failed on both counts.

Despite the foot stomping of the Church's conservative traditionalists, there was a brief flowering of freedom, debate and inclusion and during that short time, my faith grew strong and optimistic. For about twenty years, the church progressed harmoniously, or so it seemed to me, with greater laity participation in the Mass and in  the running of parishes. Women were invited to read scripture at Mass and to hand out the Eucharist.

Then suddenly, for reasons I don’t understand though I suspect it had something to do with power, the fear of losing it and the neurosis and emotional dysfunction within the culture of the Church, the hierarchy of the church performed an amazing back flip. It was a tremendous, collective, conservative knee jerk. To this day my father's knee is still jerking... which is very sad considering he was one of the early instigators of the push to raise the status of the laity within the Church. He even helped to start a group called The Redemptorist Lay Community.

Dad's explanation for, in my opinion, the Church's 'retreat from sanity' was that the gentle swell of openness within the church instigated by the Second Vatican Council grew into an out of control tidal wave of change, that had to be stopped.

So, just as this young adult in her twenties was being inspired by a bright new, spirit filled Church community, the old men in dresses decided to shift the goal posts! I felt betrayed and abandoned by both my father and my church.

The laity was still included in the saying of the Mass but we were warned not to discuss the issues of women priests, dying with dignity (euthanasia), same sex marriage, along with many other issues.

The very popular rite of Communal Penance was stopped and any criticism of the Church or it's teachings, frowned upon. This reaction became the pattern of the Church throughout my adult life. Each time the laity began to grow in 'power' (if you  could call it 'power' ) and with it perhaps a little less conservative, the men in charge (in dresses) would perform another collective knee jerk.

I loved these beautiful windows at St.Joseph's Church in the seaside city of Warrnambool, Victoria where David I came to live in 1982. There's that two again!

At certain times of the year, when the sun was at the right angle, they'd light up the church, revealing very human faces, some of whom looked authentically Middle Eastern. Installed in 1954 about eleven years before the Second Vatican Council, these world renowned lead light windows cost the good, hard working people of St.Joseph's Parish the enormous sum of two thousand pounds ( $40,000 in today's money). Those good people were steeped in the old rigid faith and valiantly resisted change when it reached their isolated shores. My father used to say, the Catholic Church is alive and well and living in Warrnambool. It was ironic that he rejoiced in that which drove me away!

Years later, my journey away from the Church reached a pivotal moment. We (the progressive minority) knew Church scholars had been working on our beloved rite for a number of years and, optimistically, we hoped that the language of the new Mass would be more gender inclusive…or even gender neutral. Alas, it was not to be. Instead, the language is now even more focused on a masculine God. The priests were not happy about the change but still they adopted it like good, frightened little robots.

Today, I’ve finally accepted that the Church is broken and I can’t fix it. I can’t even try to help fix it. I can’t even hope that it will ever be fixed…despite our magnanimous and inspirational new Pope Francis.

The Church is broken and my faith, or should say my faith i the church, is broken with it.

Maybe it's crazy to hold on to ones spiritual beliefs with absolute, incontrovertible assurance, although, my husband thinks I’m a little bit crazy (just enough to make me interesting). Most of us, if we're honest, have some doubt. We hang in there because our belief generally outweighs the doubt but in the end, I was worn down by the ever present men on high and the women who supported them and the culture of silent obedience (we could question some things but not expect anything to change...not until another Vatican Council...maybe Pope Francis will call one.).

My doubt in the men of the Church grew stronger than my faith in them and quite suddenly, it all seemed far too absurd and ridiculously obsolete. My daughter said that it had become embarrassing to sit beside me at Mass, because I'd sit on the pew, pulling faces, rolling my eyes and quietly groaning. It was an outward sign of my frustration, anger and sense of betrayal. Without any doubt I know that God would not want me to attend Mass, if it caused me such emotional discomfort.

The sex abuse scandals and the Church’s response to them and the consequent cataclysmic damage that’s been visited upon families and whole communities, was in the end enough to drive me away.

That and the fact that women are treated as lesser beings, not equal, not priestly, not credible. We were taught that Mary, Jesus' mother, had changed the status of Jewish women. Strange that 2,000 years later, there is little difference in the status of women in the Church.

I know we’re all broken. I know we’ve been taught that God is with us in our brokenness but to me, it didn’t look as though those priests, bishops and others who work so hard to maintain the organisation of the church, were in the slightest bit broken and certainly not as broken as the poor children who had their whole lives ruined…nor the families who had been torn apart…nor the communities in remote areas who were decimated by alcohol, drugs, mental illness and suicide. Where was the God of the Church for those people? In the hearts and minds of the victims, the Catholic God had become the embodiment of the devil itself.

I could relate to your version of the Creed, with one exception. You referred to God as ‘He’. We’ve been taught that God is neither male nor female, yet still we refer to God as ‘He'. I believe that until this one seemingly small thing changes, nothing else will. So, just to stir the pot and hopefully make a point, I always refer to God as 'She'.

Now I spend nearly all my time trying, with others, to help save God’s Earth from human destruction. Our beautiful planet may well be the only one in the entire universe brimming with billions of complex and diverse life forms. And so, knowing this, what do human beings do? They continue to wantonly destroy it!

I organise, I write, I meet and I fight the devastation of mining, urbanisation, industrialisation, deforestation, corporatisation, greed, exploitation, factory farming, pollution and waste. I fight for human rights and the rights of all species to exist on a healthy planet. I believe I'm doing what God asks every one of us to do.

Along the way, this determination lead me to realise that unless we change our human laws, we'll never save our only home, the Earth. So, about thirteen years ago I joined the Australian Greens. Though many Greens don't believe in God, I know they're the only political party and global political movement, trying to save Her creation.

As Greens we work to change Australian legislation and to win Government in order to stop our country from persecuting refugees and to fight for the rights of all human beings and all other species. The four tenets upon which we base all our policies are:

Grassroots Democracy
Peace and Non Violence
Social Justice
A Sustainable Environment

The Greens are the only consistently ethical, global political organisation with credible and sustainable human rights and environmental policies.

Thank you for speaking my thoughts and feelings in your version of the Apostle’s Creed. The words  resonated deep in my soul.

‘May God hold you in the palm of Her hand.’

Lisa Owen
Warrnambool, Australia

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Hello. I'm the Growling Grass Frog.

It's hard to believe that these beautiful animals may soon be lost to us and to the Earth. 

The Growling Grass Frog is a permanent resident of the Merri Wetlands near Warrnambool in Victoria, while others visit for a holiday once a year.

The Merri Wetlands Protection Group is a tiny group of local people who fight to stop the industrialisation of this important ecosystem.

With this aim we went to VCAT (civil court) but now we must pay legal fees. That's why we need your help.

Please donate whatever you can.
It's easy to give on-line on the My Cause site but cheaper for us if you directly deposit into the bank account that is listed on the site.

With much gratitude and love,
Lisa Owen
On behalf of the Merri Wetalnd Protection Group

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Dear beautifuls. We need $5 or $10 or more if you can spare it!

Hi there wonderful people,

I have a special request of you all and I'm hoping you won't mind if I post it on my blog.

Our little Wetland environment group has incurred large legal fees for trying to protect our Merri Wetlands against industrialisation.

WE need help to pay those fees. The price of one or two or 3 cups of coffee from many kind people will help us reach our goal. It's very easy to donate on line.

Here's the link:…/help-us-pay-court-costs-to-pro…

All the information you need is on that link.

I blogged about a similar issue not so long ago.

The same company owned by Colin McKenna from Midfield Meats, has a rendering plant in the sand dunes between Levy's Beach and the Merri Wetlands. It's actually on the wetland. They've been sneakily trying to get permission to make upgrades to the plant, which will filter the polluted discharge they've been pumping into the wetland for years without EPA acknowledging any complaints. So problem is, once they do it, they're entrenched on that site...never to leave and ss you can see the site is inappropriate for factories of any description, especially one so polluting.

It's a long story but cut short, we (a handfulf ordinary local people) went to VCAT and we lost. Now we have legal fees.

It isn't all bad as the EPA has been ordered to do it's job properly amongst other things but the little group, after a decade, is well and truly burnt.

I learnt a few things about justice when we fought for the Merri Wetland against Midfield Meats.

1/ To get real justice you need a lot of money

2/ The justice system doesn't work in the same way for everyone. We're not all equal in the eyes of the law.

3/ Money trumps endangered species ANY DAY. Unless more people get more active, species haven't got a snowflakes.

4/ Julian Burnside said that VCAT is a good system and that it can help ordinary folk fight for justice. I'm pretty sure now that that's not entirely true.
Did I mention money?

If you're sitting in a court and you're looking at a room full of lawyers, including a QC, and only one is on your side, then you can be darn sure you've got buckleys.

Anyway: Please help we poor people pay our court fees. Will keep begging 'til we're there but I promise to be a little entertaining, informative and not too repetitive.
I love youse all.  
Please good people, help if you can.
Lisa Owen

Thoughts on Stress by Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd fame

Interesting. Not sure I agree with all of it but nevertheless definitely worth the read.  

I have had numerous requests to repost the commentary I wrote on Dealing with Stress. I also have been motivated to post this because of a recent suicide by a former crew member. Here it is again.

Dealing with the Killer Called Stress
Observations and Advice by Captain Paul Watson

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Elliot
- The Four Quartets

I am often asked how I deal with stress considering I’m wanted by Japan and Costa Rica, I have a price on my head from the shark fin mafia of Costa Rica, we have numerous ships on the sea in dangerous campaigns, I am being sued, threatened and harassed continuously and I have a lot of enemies, critics and people who wish me harm.

The answer to this is simple. I don’t deal with stress, because I do not suffer from stress. And these are ten primary reasons why, and for anyone suffering from anxiety, worry or stress, I would like to offer this advice.

1. It is what it is. Whatever the issue, whatever the threat, whatever the circumstances it simply is what it is. Stressing will not change the situation. All problems can be dealt with or ignored.

2. “It’s always something.” I say this all the time to my crews whenever a problem arises. “It’s always something and if it’s not something, it’s something else, but it is always something.” This means that life comes with obstacles, challenges and problems. Problems should not be unexpected. They are inevitable. All problems can be dealt with by dealing with them, delegating someone else to deal with them, or ignoring them. One thing for sure, on a ship, it is definitely always something.

3. Stay calm. There really is nothing worth getting upset about. For example, if I drop a bottle of wine or tomato sauce and it shatters, my reaction is, “hmmm okay, that needs cleaning up.” If I lose my phone, wallet or keys, my reaction is “I better replace what I lost and take measures to cancel my cards etc. More seriously when my regulator jammed once at 30 meters, I calmly signaled my partner to indicate my situation. Fretting about it will not recover the object. Panicking will not save your life. Anger emanates from stress. Without stress there can be no anger. Without stress there is no panic.

4. Nothing material is permanent and thus objects are not worth stressing about. Your car is damaged, something you own is stolen, or you lost your investments etc. It is really not important. Material objects and comforts are nice but they should not be anchors keeping you attached to stress. Move on.

5. Friends are friends or they are not. A true friend will never betray you and if a “friend” does betray you than he/she is simply not a friend. Always walk away from betrayal and do not stress about it. True and loyal friends are rare treasures and should be treated as such. Loyalty returns loyalty. Compassion returns compassion. Courage returns courage. However you control only your own loyalty, compassion and courage, not that of others. And if they prove disloyal or they betray you, the treasure is no longer a treasure but merely a bauble to be tossed aside. Never stress about betrayal or loss. It is what it is. And if you’ve been betrayed once by someone, do not allow yourself to be betrayed again by that same person.

6. Loneliness is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to discover yourself. You can’t find someone to love you if you don’t love yourself, and the secret to finding the right person is to not look for that person. Love should blossom from the ground like a lovely wild flower. It cannot be cultivated until after it is realized. Do not seek the seed but let the flower reveal an opportunity to you to grow and learn.

7. Relationships are like streams, constantly flowing and as they flow they meet obstacles. Some are minor and others major but a relationship either flows around the obstacle or it is blocked, and if permanently blocked, it ends. This is not cause for stress or angry, resentment or jealously. It is what it is. Move on with appreciation and without bitterness for the relationship that is no more, and open your heart to other possibilities that life presents. The most important factor in maintaining a meaningful relationship with lovers, family or friends is simply acceptance. You need to accept them for who they are and they need to accept you for who you are. If you cannot accept another person for who they are, you need to stop inflicting stress on that person and to walk away. And if another person does not accept you for who you are, you need to walk away no matter the nature of the relationship. Stress kills and living with a person who does not accept you for who you are is like living with a person who is slowly killing you.

8. Fear is a poison that seeps into the soul and paralyzes our senses generating paranoia, insecurity and anger. Never let fear enter your life. There is really nothing to fear because things are what they are and will be what they will be. Remember you are the captain of your fate and the master of your soul and body. Who you are and what you wish to be depends on you and you alone. A person free of fear can accomplish far more than a person shackled to fear.

9. Oscar Wilde once said that the only thing worst than being talked about was not being talked about. People talk, they gossip, they make false accusations, some enjoy insulting and belittling others. They are easily dealt with by ignoring them. Responding to them is what they want, so don’t respond. Reacting to them is what they want, so don’t react. Such people are not worthy of causing stress to you. They come from a place of insecurity, jealously and fear. It is their stress, and their stress is their problem. It should not be yours.

10. Hoka Hey. It’s a good day to die. It’s a Lakota saying and it means to not fear death and to stand firm for what you believe in, to fight against all odds and to never surrender. The one absolute of life is death. We all will die. What matters is not dying but living. It is how you live that is important and the only thing important about dying is how you die. It should be a death without fear, with dignity and with acceptance that it is what it is. The person without fear dies but once, the person shackled by fear dies slowly from stress and anxiety. Accept the inevitable, embrace the final reality of life and smile in the face of the infinite. The real secret to happiness is to not fear your own death, to not fear failure or ridicule, and not to fear others.

Stress is an obstacle to mindfulness and an impediment to impeccability. Stress is the cause of migraines, cancer and many other ailments. It is the reason people smoke, take drugs, and drink excessively. When people ask me why I’ve never smoked anything, the reason being is that I have never felt inclined to do so. It never seemed healthy to me and I have always been mindful of the consequences. I think that stress blocks mindfulness of consequences. The same holds true to getting drunk or stoned. Without stress there is no need, nor a desire to do either.

Mindfulness is simply awareness of who you are and what you are doing. A person who is mindful is a person free of stress.

Unfulfilled desire leads to stress. Wanting nothing allows you to appreciate what you have. When you want nothing, you want for nothing. We all have basic needs for food, for warmth and shelter, for clothing and for companionship. Mindfulness allows you to be secure with your basic needs.

Everything else is a luxury and although luxuries may be appreciated, you should not depend upon them. Depending upon luxuries leads to stress.

I have never worked a day in my life for the sole purpose of making money. I have never wanted to own anything and although I now do own property and material things, I do not allow those things to own me. I never engage in arguments about money or debts. I tend to avoid debts but when debts occur my position is that they are what they are and certainly not anything to be troubled with.
As far as basic needs, I learned to address this as a teenager when I left home at 15. I had no money, no place to stay, no prospects. I jumped a freight train, rode in the automobiles being transported from Toronto all the way to Vancouver. I arrived and camped in the abandoned gun towers on Wreck Beach and the first thing I did was to go to Vancouver City College to enroll. I found a job, moved out of the gun tower into a single room I rented and went from there. Looking back I see it as an adventure. I had nothing, but there was no stress. I simply reframed the insecurity of my position into an adventurous experience. I treated every job as a learning experience and working as a longshoreman, teamster, tree planter, warehouse man, short order cook, baker, painter, carpet layer, postman, tour guide, landscaper, and seaman all were educational experiences.

The truth is that all of life is an adventure, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the experiences, the hardships, the thrills and the times that were lonely, happy or difficult. Even the loss of friends and family is simply dealt with by acknowledging that death is as it is. It is inevitable and although we may sincerely mourn we can do so without being stressed. This may be difficult to understand but it is indeed quite possible. With the passing of every friend, with the passing of my brother I have silently said “Good-bye” with the appreciation of having known them.
I have gone into situations many times where the risks of injury, death or imprisonment were practically a certainty. My approach has always been acceptance. And amazingly I am still alive and still free. When I have had nothing I have had everything I need, and when I have risked all, I have usually been successful. One of the things that concerns me is when I read about, or hear of people, especially young people committing suicide because of bullying. I wish that I could talk to such people before they make such a terminal decision. I would tell them to not let the insecurities and fears of others influence them in any way. I would tell them to accept that all the ridicule, insults, bullying and peer pressure is irrelevant and simply unimportant to who they are. If a parent is unaccepting of who you are, you need to say to them that if you are unacceptable to them they have no right to be your parent and you should walk away from them. Too many people are enslaved to parents, partners and friends who do not accept them Unacceptance and bullying are forms of violence and everyone should walk away from violence with dignity. No one should tell you what to believe, how to think, how to dress, how to behave or to dictate your sexual orientation or condemn you for your compassion, your passion, your imagination and your character. You are who you are and that is what it is, and how it should be, and if others do not tolerate who you are, don’t give them the satisfaction of destroying you. Simply symbolically spit in their eye, walk away and concentrate on being who you are for the benefit of yourself.

And if anyone is inclined to commit suicide my advice is to commit social suicide instead. That is, to drop out of your life as it is and begin another life, in another place with new ideas. Adventure is the antidote for depression. Take a chance, jump into the unknown and you will be amazed at what is awaiting you after you do.

I am not infallible. I have made mistakes in my life, many of them. I have at times in the past responded with anger although rarely physical and limited to the poison of the pen. I have let some people down, disappointed others and missed opportunities. But the one thing that I have been able to do in my life is to avoid stress.

At 64, I am healthy, happy, optimistic, and as passionate as I ever have been. Even more so because I have had the grace of experience and the satisfaction of achievement in those areas that I chose to address.

The point of this posting is this: Do not let stress ruin your health, your love or your life. Dreadnaught and live the adventure, this adventure that is life. It may well be the only life you will ever have. Even if you believe in the afterlife (oh and don’t stress about that either) the fact is you will never know for sure, so no sense wasting the unique life that you have.

A stress free life is not only possible, it’s also essential for your health and your happiness.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Why have Labor supporters gone AWOL on forests and renewable energy?

What has happened to Labor?

Over the years I've realized that Liberal Governments care little for native forests or the endangered species that depend on them and I'm quickly losing faith in Labor as well. Unfortunately, these days there are few differences between the two parties.

Right now, a tragedy is unfolding in the Toolangi State Forest. Victoria's fauna emblem, the Leadbeaters (Fairy) Possum has been listed as critically endangered due to un-profitable, tax payer funded logging activities by the Victorian State Government.

The situation is blindingly and tragically simple. The Leadbeaters Possum needs the forest to survive, so the Government owned VicForests, must cease logging immediately.  VicForests runs at a loss so why do they continue to operate?

The Greens support the formation of a Great Forest National Park which will protect our native forests and the unique species of flora and fauna that depend on them.

Why aren't Labor supporters outraged over their party's decision to keep logging Toolangi despite the imminent demise of our state emblem.

And where's the membership protest over the party's decision to support the Federal Government's reduction of the Renewable Energy Target, not to mention the introduction of forest furnaces as a form of renewable energy. Where is everyone? Are they missing in action? Are they all too stunned from watching The Killing Season to challenge these ridiculous policies?

Burning forest waste sounds like a good idea but the truth is, medium to large wood fired generators are very inefficient and require huge volumes of wood to produce a small amount of energy.
Existing forest based biomass power plants in the USA emit at least 50per cent more CO2 than coal, for the same energy produced.

No surprises that the Greens voted against this Bill. The reduction of the RET is a very bad move for our country and its people.

Why are ALP supporters so silent on these issues? Why aren't they outraged?

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Reflection On Abuse

Sometimes it's not that simple.

I've cried a river for the terrible crimes committed against innocent children in the Catholic Church. I feel overwhelmed, speechless and kind of paralyzed by the enormity of the impact on our community's beautiful, innocent babies and their families and friends and on and on. I also cry for those who have suffered in other institutions, in families and communities who suffer now, throughout the world. I wish we could prevent all children everywhere from ever experiencing such terrible suffering.

But even though I've stopped going to Mass because I feel so conflicted over the Church's responses to the crimes of those monsters, I do also feel uneasy about the wave of social media hatred toward the Church and in particular George Pell.

Anger is certainly justified when it's directed at those who knew of these crimes and who allowed them to happen...deep anger, hurt, betrayal and disgust and also, guilt and shame for ever having  belonged to such a group, institution or community.

However, isn't the lynch mob mentality, believing every negative you read or watch without having the facts verified, a bit like the French execution of the aristocracy? I believe that if we knee jerk all the time, every time we hear the name George Pell or Catholic we are in fact, perpetuating some of the evil of this whole sorry mess.

I believe, we owe it to everyone involved, especially those whose lives have been ruined, to do our best to make sure we have our facts straight before we start ruining the lives of more innocent people.  We must be careful not to fall into the same trap as those we condemn. We must be better than that, otherwise, we perpetuate the cycle of abuse. More hurt is caused  by lumping everyone who simply existed in the church at that time, in the same basket as those who knew. I know that most Catholics, including most nuns and priests and my very young self had no idea that such abominations were taking place.

We've all lived through and still live in a culture of abuse.

Though my memories of abuse and prejudice were nothing compared to those who were being savaged by pedophiles and I could never have comprehended that such terrible experiences were even possible,  sexism and prejudice against my faith were a strong part of my childhood.

Kids threw stones at me on my way to school because I was the only Catholic kid in the street. I was taunted because I had red hair. I was overlooked and laughed at and teased. I sometimes felt wounded, confused and alone but I was also determined. I learnt to speak up, to stand up for what I believed in and to stand up for those around me, for those who had no voice or those who couldn't find one. It made me loud and forthright and now I'm a Green in a blue ribbon seat. Hello prejudice my old friend.

Most of my teachers were strong female role models as were the women in my family and I think this helped me to stand in my power...though I still have my fair share of insecurities.

It makes me wonder if some of those kids who had no voice or confidence were being traumatised by adults. As far as I know none of the schools I attended were infiltrated by pedophiles.

All men, are listened to and taken more seriously than women. Sometimes I ask my husband to approach people because I know they'll listen to him. Women must strive harder than men for less reward. This is the way it still is for me and most other women in our culture today.

And we all know the dreadful statistics on domestic violence...right here in our country: our homes ,our places of work. Don't you feel horrified by this?

I'd certainly welcome a royal commission into sexism and domestic abuse. I hope it will happen very soon.

Nowhere was and is the culture of abuse more prevalent than in the Catholic Church. I was lucky enough to live during a brief time of enlightenment within the church. It was the time of the peace movement and coupled with the Second Vatican Council, it had flow on effects within our Church. We thought we would change the world and as women we were empowered by the energy and freedom of that time. Nuns started wearing civvies and curling their hair and priests wore jeans.

But then along came another wave of knee jerk, right wing, conservatism and the Church followed suit. With it the culture of shame, guilt and secrecy returned. When you think of it, the culture in the Church was a pedophile's paradise. Priests were held in such high esteem they were rarely questioned. We used to call it the 'boys club'.

George Pell was my principle at teacher's college and he was definitely one of those boys but he was also very kind to me. Perhaps it was because I was the only one in class who could or who dared to answer questions on theology, philosophy and the teachings of Aquinas. He seemed an intelligent, kind man who listened and helped me overcome some difficulties with an especially nasty nun who refused to pass my English Method essay...because she thought I'd dyed my she said. I asked another nun to read it and she took the matter to George Pell who acted immediately. He was very sensible, though I do wonder if he would've reacted as quickly if the nun had been a priest?

I've heard from some enlightened Mercy Sisters that he was no friend of theirs.

So, no matter the outcome, hear this from me who is on your side: think twice before condemning someone to prejudice and abuse. Try to refrain from zealous condemnation of those who have not been found guilty or you may find yourselves sounding like those you're condemning and even, in a round about way, becoming the abusers!

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Simon Ramsey's Liberal Party double standards.

Recently there were two evocative letters; one from Warrnambool Uniting Church Minister, Malcolm Frazer (as opposed to ex-PM Fraser spelt with an ‘s’) and the other from Simon Ramsey, Victorian shadow parliamentary secretary for rural and regional transport.  

                                             Simon Ramsey

Thank you to Rev. Frazer for eloquently expressing the sentiments that are shared by so many of us on the death of Malcolm Fraser. He worked hard for humanitarian ideals, becoming one of the great statesmen of our country.

        Malcolm Fraser

The second letter by Simon Ramsey surprised me almost as much as when Malcom Fraser revealed his humanitarian side. Dr Mary Glowrey was a great Australian Christian and a trail blazer for women in the medical profession. It’s appropriate and long overdue that she be recognized by the Australian people and also that she should be canonised by the Church for her service to the people of India. Indicative of the awe inspiring character of so many Australian women both then and now, our first Saint is Mary MacKillop and the two most likely to follow are Dr. Mary Glowrey and Caroline Chisholm.

                                                          Sr. Dr. Mary Glowery 

'Tis a pity that the policies of Mr.Ramsey’s Liberal Party do not reflect the qualities he so admires in Dr.Glowery. If she were alive today she would despair over the actions of the Liberal Government toward asylum seekers, aborigines, the homeless, the unemployed, pensioners, people with disabilities, uni students, women who’ve experienced violence, health services, education, climate change and the ravages of coal and unconventional gas mining. How can Mr. Ramsey be so admiring of Dr. Glowery and yet so blind to all of this?