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taming the tigress . . . “The life and dignity of millions of men, women and children hang in the balance. Decisions must be judged in light of what they do for the poor, what they do to the poor, and what they enable the poor to do for themselves. The fundamental moral criterion for all economic decisions, policies and institutions is this: they must be at the service of all people, especially the poor. (American Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter, Economic Justice for all, 24)
s I write on the day after Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, images of her in the aftermath of the Conservative Party Conference bombing in Brighton and her prayerfulness stay with me. She seemed at her most human and personal at that point in her public life — showing an endearing hint of uncertainty. As she said of herself, “There’s not much point in being a weak and floppy thing in the chair, is there?” What she achieved as Prime
Minister of Great Britain, however, has brought both plaudits and brickbats. She was “a tigress surrounded by hamsters,” as John Biffen a former Cabinet colleague famously mused, a unique politician who changed things, and whom everyone followed — a gamechanger and an earth-mover. Many countries including New Zealand moved politically because she led the way. Indeed, Rogernomics is a fair imitation of what Baroness Thatcher achieved, sometimes even more far-reaching, in that our local political structure brooks no opposition. And once in power, a New Zealand government of whatever stripe works without checks or balances. We lack a House of Lords or an Australian Senate, even with the strong benefit of mixed-member proportional representation (MMP). Unfair consequences have followed. Presently they include: unprecedented levels of child poverty, unemployment with no possibility of a job to come, soaring rents, unaffordable housing,
Editorial. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3
Letters to the editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Comment: ‘The best of times, the worst of times’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Mary britt Money, money, money . . . it’s a rich man’s world . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6–7 Jacqui Ryan Vatican II on poverty and wealth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8–9 Michael Costigan Economic policy and human dignity: “let there be light” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10–11 Paul DaLziel Te whare roimata: house of tears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12-13 Interview: Catherine Harrison Christ in the suburbs – part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14–15 Interview: Catherine Harrison Foot washing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16–17 Kathleen Rushton Lots of forgiveness, asked for or not . . . . . . . . . . . 18–19 Glynn Cardy A nuclear weapon-free world? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20–21 Robert Green
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benefit cuts, and a government attitude of pushing ahead with ideological changes without worrying about the human consequences. This Aotearoan phenomenon is replicated in other parts of the world. As an aside, neither the Baroness nor Roger Douglas would have withstood the scrutiny of the American Bishops’ statement quoted above. Where then lies the hope for change from these unfair consequences? It nests in a number of places, expected and unexpected. In a letter to us covering the interviews that Cathy Harrison did with Te Whare Roimata and the Aranui Sisters (both in this issue) Cathy had this to say: “It was good to focus on community development in Christchurch during a similar time to the Aranui Sisters. While this community [Te Whare Roimata] may not have been driven by Vatican documents, they were and are women and men of God … their vision is truly beautiful responding so creatively and in such empowering ways. The humility and sensitivities
An open letter to pope francis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22–23 Anna Holmes A pope for our times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24–25 Jim Consedine Where is jesus to be found? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26–27 Kathleen Rushton Poem: Visit us . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Anne Powell Book and film reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28–29 Crosscurrents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Jim Elliston Death and taxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Peter Norris A mother’s journal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Kaaren Mathias Key to front cover photos: Centre: Wall Street, New York. Other photos, clockwise from top left: Drought in the Horn of Africa; Fishing in Southern India; Education in Darfur; Food security in Sudan; Water resources in Zimbabwe; Ploughing in Darfur. [With thanks to Christian World Service for the use of the Africa/Asia photos.]
to journey for so long speaks of the Life of God in abundance — the life that we know is encountered on the margins — in the cracks where the light gets in!” Just so. Cathy has put a fine antipodean flavour to the opening quote from the American Bishops’ 1986 pastoral letter. These Bishops’ forthrightness is needed here to stimulate discussion and change in our country. There is, in fact, a challenge to the NZ Churches collectively, and the Catholic Bishops in particular, to speak out even more clearly in the present situation. The figures are clear. Since 2008 the disparity within New Zealand has increased substantially, while Jacqui Ryan sensibly shows the global nature of this problem. We need policies to ensure affordable housing
and to boost employment. Helping unemployed youth who lose hope when there are no jobs for them and who are intimidated by the bureaucracy of government departments is key; and keeping as many jobs as possible within Aotearoa rather than outsourcing them is a no-brainer. We need take only one example: NZ Rail’s debacle concerning the Hillside workshops, and the construction of rail wagons in Dunedin rather than in China. The expected and fine work of such groups as Te Whare Roimata and the Aranui Sisters are beacons for the many groups whose quiet work to sustain the poor and marginalised and work for change is signalled here. We honour them all. The unexpected also beckons: Paul Dalziel in his article gives hope that
the New Zealand Treasury is beginning to import a new vision of what economics may mean. That augurs the possibility of policy change that will serve the needs of all New Zealanders. Do enjoy his article and take a Google peep at the Treasury material. On another tack, we continue to focus on Pope Francis. Anna Holmes looks at the wounds of the Church. These inspire an evocative dream. Jim Consedine hones in on some “fault lines”, praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to free Francis to move in the ways he has already done. Finally, enjoy Kath Rushton’s focus on the background to our liturgical Holy Thursday rite of footwashing. It is a new take on this situation, and makes eminent sense. Sweet reading! KT
Pentecost Subscription Appeal As the feast of Pentecost approaches we find ourselves ‘seeing visions and dreaming dreams’. What would it mean if we could increase the number of subscribers to Tui Motu? Most importantly it would mean that more people would have the opportunity to be informed, challenged, drawn into discussion, encouraged to meditate and reflect, and even delighted. We are sure from the feedback received from so many of our readers that the magazine is valued and enjoyed. So there must be other potential readers who might receive the same stimulation and pleasure as you do. We are most grateful to all of you who
took out gift subscriptions at Christmas time. You brought in very many new friends of Tui Motu, who will, we hope, continue to enjoy the magazine throughout 2013. We are not asking you for further gifts at this time. Instead we are asking your help with something which may well be more difficult. Our dream is that every one of you, every reader of Tui Motu might recruit a new subscriber for us, someone who would commit to taking out their own subscription for 5 months or for the full year. Your personal enthusiasm and encouragement could work the wonders that we dream of. Nothing is more effective than the direct approach. So
Tui Motu – InterIslands is an independent, Catholic, monthly magazine. It invites its readers to question, challenge and contribute to its discussion of spiritual and social issues in the light of gospel values, and in the interests of a more just and peaceful society. Inter-church and inter-faith dialogue is welcomed.
ISSM 1174-8931 Issue number 171
The name Tui Motu was given by Pa Henare Tate. It literally means “stitching the islands together...”, bringing the different races and peoples and faiths together to create one Pacific people of God. Divergence of opinion is expected and will normally be published, although that does not necessarily imply editorial commitment to the viewpoint expressed.
we invite you to go out from your ‘upper rooms’ and spread the good word of Tui Motu to at least one other person. If you are not in a position to find and sign up a new subscriber, another possibility would be that you clip the small coupon which appears on the back page of each issue, fill in the name of someone who might be interested in the magazine and mail the coupon to us. We would then send a sample copy. It helps if you include your own name also, so that we can tell your friends who recommended them. May the Spirit move us all to take action in this subscriber drive this Pentecost! EM
address: Independent Catholic Magazine Ltd, P O Box 6404, Dunedin North, 9059 phone: (03) 477 1449 fax: (03) 477 8149 email: email@example.com website: www.tuimotu.org editor: Kevin Toomey OP assistant editor: Elizabeth Mackie OP illustrator: Donald Moorhead directors: Susan Brebner, Rita Cahill RSJ, Philip Casey (chair), Neil Darragh, Paul Ferris, Robin Kearns, Elizabeth Mackie OP honorary directors: Pauline O’Regan RSM, Frank Hoffmann typesetting and layout: Greg Hings printers: Southern Colour Print, 1 Turakina Road, Dunedin South, 9012
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letters to the editor the consedines There were so many good articles in the April edition of Tui Motu, I am loath to write a letter of protest. But I must do so because I considered the article by Robert Consedine just awful. “We are witnessing a Papacy that appears to be completely disconnected from the people of God.” “Like the serfs of 19th century Russia, Catholics still have no rights in their own Church.” And so on. I’m told the Consedines are a ‘Bolshie’ family. OK. But why encourage their Bolshie views? Anyway this is my protest. Ted Maloney, Invercargill
inspiration I am the elderly owner of a precious cat and I am upset by the mayhem created by Gareth Morgan’s cat campaign. ‘The Devout Atheist’ (Tui Motu, March ’13) showed a man whose heart and values are in the right place. The Christian principles expressed throughout the article were an inspirational insight into a couple who show what can be done when such values are put into practice. The expression of Christianity, as revealed in many of the articles, shows a faith that will prevail as the materialistic world falls apart. How encouraging that the strength of those who are self sacrificing and who believe in a better world are willing to commit themselves in the fight against poverty and for justice. Joan Horner, Auckland
st dorothy day of new york St Dorothy Day of New York — such is the acclaim being broadcast for the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. It shows remarkable humility on the part of the American bishops to admit that this prepossessed radical personalist, this stirrer and server of Catholic Worker soup, this undeterred 4 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
pacifist — was actually a saint. She was a disturbing influence to Catholics and non-Catholics alike; and an uncontainable irritant to both secular and religious authorities. The title ‘saint’ would ensure that here is another radical witness to Christ that the world cannot be rid of — St Dorothy Day of New York. Dorothy and those with her had a vision as Fr Consedine said “of a meaningful application of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”(TM, Feb 13) Pope John Paul II could well have called her a ‘living word’ — propelled by Christ’s own words, “feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison.” By canonising Dorothy, the Church would be sanctioning this movement with its great disturbing potential, with its charism of uniting the personalisation of the works of mercy with being a voice for the marginalised, the dispossessed and the wretched of our societies. Although Dorothy was a pacifist, she was also a lifelong supporter of the union movement. Differing from her principal co-founder in this — she showed an acute awareness that the dignity of the human person was not enhanced by a compliant, submissive labour force. Drawing from the thinkers of her time, earlier encyclicals, her own experience and prefiguring John Paul II, she upheld the various rights of labour to organize. There may not have been a Bishop at her funeral (most of us don’t have bishops at our funerals — a priest will do fine) and, yes, the hierarchy do exhibit a tendency to marginalise radical commitment, but the Church will be remedying that somewhat here. Cardinal Cooke did receive her body into the Church of the Nativity prior to her funeral. About the gospel of Jesus, we Catholics say, “I cannot be indifferent.” Nor can I be indifferent to such a witness to the gospel. When Dorothy Day is declared a saint,
letters to the editor We welcome comment, discussion, argument, debate. But please keep letters under 200 words. The editor reserves the right to abridge, while not changing the meaning. We do not publish anonymous letters otherwise than in exceptional circumstances. Response articles (up to a page) are welcome — but please, by negotiation.
I believe there will be many souls thrilled to know that a saint once walked in their neighbourhood and walks beside them still. Matthew Walton, Palmerston North (abridged)
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‘the best of times, the worst of times’
n March 21, in a week which could have become the worst in her political career, Prime Minister Julia Gillard found what one journalist called ‘her finest hour’. She offered a public national apology to women who had suffered the ‘forced adoption’ of their babies. In so doing, she acknowledged that a grievous wrong had been done and accepted the nation’s responsibility for it. For the rest of us, this apology raised burning questions again: how could such wrongs have happened? Why was this not prevented by law? With a Senate Committee’s Report of two years’ research into different adoption laws and practice across six States and two Territories, we may attempt some answers. The Commonwealth’s role is limited to the oversight constitutionally available to the Attorney General and the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG). A significant comment at 6.8 in the Report notes that in all States and Territories the hub of the laws was to ‘establish’ the legal relationship of adopted children to adopting parents and ‘extinguish’ their legal relationship to their natural parents. Children were given a new legal identity; but lost their natural identity, rooted in parentage and ancestry. The rights of natural parents were overlooked. Such laws failed to acknowledge and balance the needs and rights of all parties to an adoption. With hindsight, informed by slowly developed human rights law, we wonder at the lawmakers’ apparent blindness. By 1940 Attorneys General and Child Welfare Ministers recognised the laws’ defects and the need for change. However, the mills of the law grind slowly. Major change did not come till the 1960s. Meanwhile, the laws did not prevent a cruel perversion
of the adoption process. ‘The law was an ass’, we may say, for its sins of omission. But with no ‘malice aforethought’ what was behind this malpractice from1930 until 1982? It seems, social conventions of the time. Women or girls pregnant outside wedlock were all liable to be tarred with the same stigmatising brush: they had shamed their families and created a ‘social problem’. They were held responsible for their condition and its consequences. Such stereotyping passed judgement without any consideration of guilt or innocence. At the same time, adoption was the favoured solution to this ‘problem’. Doctors, nurses, social workers, midwives were not immune to this pervasive mindset. Many young women became its victims, treated with cruelty when they needed compassion and care. By definition, a forced adoption was arranged without the mother’s consent. Typically, this happened when the mother was most vulnerable to pressure from those around her, especially if physical and emotional fragility affected her capacity for judgement. Under pressure, sometimes from their ‘shamed’ family, sometimes from medicos or welfare officials, mothers signed documents they did not understand but later found they could not revoke. Some thought they were making temporary arrangements only. One still grieving mother reported that she did not ever see her child, taken from her for adoption immediately after birth. In 1960 the Commonwealth Attorney General called for a SCAG Conference which Child Welfare Ministers would also attend. An Under Secretary in NSW Child Welfare submitted a crucial background paper, addressing the needs of mothers, adopting parents and adopted children. He stressed the conditions required for a mother’s
free consent and stated his conviction that ‘the welfare of the child must be regarded as, beyond question, the paramount consideration’. Circulated in advance, this paper inserted human rights issues around adoption into the SCAG Conference in June 1961. (Report, 7.11) While legal opinions differed about whose rights were paramount, some agreement emerged about ‘model legislation’ to safeguard the human rights of all parties and prevent the cruel malpractice of forced adoption. As a result, major changes were made then across all jurisdictions, and again in the 1980s, in response to a changing social climate. Now we have the Senate Committee’s Report and its first fruit: the Prime Minister’s Apology. Hundreds of mothers are grateful to Julia Gillard for the healing balm her words applied to the wounds of loss and grief they are still carrying. The Report recommended such an apology; but also the kinds of action necessary to ensure that the healing process continues. We live in hope! We have had national apologies before: to our Indigenous Peoples for the multiple wrongs they have suffered; to Child Migrants for the harsh treatment they endured here; and now this new one. What lies behind them all? The truth that legal systems, political systems, social conventions can become unjust even by default and perpetuate injustices over a long period. What remedy can we find to prevent such wrongs? Good laws, yes; but ideally, a national conversion to doing to and for others what we would wish done to and for ourselves. n Mary Britt is a Dominican Sister who lives in Sydney. A former prioress of her congregation, she works with refugees and asylum seekers. 5 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
inequality of wealth
money, money, money . . . it’s a rich man’s world Daily we find evidence of global inequality in the media. And such inequality is increasing, despite valiant efforts by individuals, NGOs and others, to tackle it. Jacqui Ryan gives evidence for this.
e’re all familiar with the saying, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” In 2013, this has never been more evident. Here are some of the numbers. Eight percent of the world’s population own 82 percent of its wealth, while the rest (92 percent) own a mere 18 percent of wealth. However, these figures conceal the over 2-plus billion global citizens who live below the ‘poverty line’ ($1.50 NZ per day). Despite economic growth, few enjoy all human rights (legally binding on all UN member states) and social protection. 868 million live in chronic hunger; 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation. Asia and the Pacific are home to 60 percent of the world’s poor. Some sobering figures for New Zealand: our 100 richest New Zealanders have a combined wealth of $52 billion, and saw their incomes increase by an average of 20 percent in 2011. By comparison, over the past four years the median income for Maori families has dropped by $40 a week and Pasifika families have seen a drop of $65. In the 1960s of my childhood, a millionaire was a rarity and certainly very wealthy. Today, they appear to be ‘two-a-penny’. Billionaires now seem to have taken their place, with 1,226 listed by Forbes magazine. It probably won’t be long before we start talking about trillionaires, though it’s difficult to imagine such obscene personal wealth. After all, trillions (12 zeros) usually measure countries’ financial positions. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income while the richest 20 percent accounts for threequarters of world income. While many of the rich elite have undoubtedly made their millions legitimately this cannot be said for
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all. The use of offshore tax havens and secret bank accounts, along with other methods of tax evasion have, cumulatively, left the coffers of many countries devoid of revenue which would otherwise support social/public spending on services such as education and health. In 2012, the estimated cost to the New Zealand Government of tax evasion was (up to) $6 billion, while benefit fraud cost $39 million. While philanthropy is being lauded as an important and significant contribution to society, and there is no doubt it is doing some good, the real issue is the underlying economic and social structures which produce such situations (in NZ) as the Variety charity proposing individual child sponsorship for the poorest children in our state-run schools. Philanthropic sponsorship of basic public services is a disgrace and something we should be ashamed of in a developed country like New Zealand. background history Growing inequality (disparity) has risen sharply over the last 30 years, much of it is directly related to the introduction of ‘free market’ (neo-liberal) economic policies in the 1980s. Adopted by many Western economies, such policies provided fertile conditions for glaring wealth accumulation. In New Zealand we know this as ‘Rogernomics’. Economic policies included major deregulation; conversion of state assets (e.g. rail, postal services) into State Owned Enterprises (SOEs, from which Government demanded profits/ dividends); major welfare reforms; the introduction of ‘user pays’ in many areas of the economy (e.g. education). Add in legislation diminishing workers’ rights (Employments Contracts Act), and it’s easy to see both the intention and effect
of ‘free market’ policies — maximisation of profit above all else. The much heralded ‘level playing field’ never eventuated, and ‘trickle down’ (remember?) never amounted to more than an abrupt sickly dribble. Some 30 years on, many international economies (including New Zealand) still remain in the grip of ‘free market’ economics. 2008 and deregulation The financial crisis of 2008 provides a striking example of the greed associated with such economic policies. The deregulation of financial markets, significantly in the USA and UK, engendered a sense of entitlement by financiers which can be described only as grossly obscene and wildly greedy, even continuing in the face of the financial meltdowns. Desperate to save the key financial institutions, governments were forced to bail them out to the tune of billions of dollars from the public purse — taxes paid by-and-large by wage and salary earners, not by financial institutions. As a direct result, public spending was cut. Five years on, it would seem nothing much has changed. That same sense of entitlement remains. The only ones to miss out are those further down the ‘food chain’ — us, the general public. Is it any wonder the ‘Occupy Movement’ spread so quickly around the world? Disappointingly, little has changed at the political level to overhaul radically the financial architecture which caused the crisis in the first place, and address growing global inequality. Equity (giving to each according to their need) is desperately required. The costs of not allowing those who are the most vulnerable to share in the benefits of growth could well end in lack of social cohesion and political instability such as
the events leading to the ‘Arab Spring’. trade liberalisation Globalisation and liberalisation of trade has been a core feature of global inequality. It is clear that New Zealand is a trading nation. Clear too that New Zealand’s trade must be carried out in a globalised environment. That brings challenging responsibilities. Undoubtedly, large transnational
appalling conditions, often lacking basic human rights. The dignity of the worker demands that s/he be recompensed justly for their labour. From our perspective as consumers, the results are cheap goods in our stores (e.g. clothing and appliances), yet our bargain is often the product of someone else’s misery and desperation. Do we ever give serious thought to this? Or do we shrug it off as someone else’s problem?
to change. While many here and internationally look for and desire change to bring about inclusive and sustainable economic growth, the struggle resembles an uphill battle against both the lobbyists of the rich elite who continue to have influence in the corridors of power, and the politically powerful themselves. It is not surprising that many of our current New Zealand Cabinet ministers, like their counterparts in the USA
Sharing the Pie THE RICH – the rich and the super-rich make up 8% of the world’s adult population and own 82% of its wealth.
SUPER-RICH 0.6% get 40%
RICH 7.5% get 42%
COMFORTABLE 22.5% get 14.5%
Pie graph data courtesy of New Internationalist.
corporations and state economies have prospered due to greater trade liberalisation, though the consequences for many under such agreements have been disastrous. Currently, there is much discussion and concern about New Zealand’s entry to the Pacific Rim Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (see www. tppa.org.nz). Efficiencies, increased productivity and profits have become the driving motives for the outsourcing of production/manufacturing off-shore. This has given rise to competitive bidding for the lowest production and wage costs, often by transnational corporations operating out of developing countries, denying many local (and New Zealand) workers fairly-remunerated employment. Human capital (labour) is simply considered an ‘unfortunate casualty’ of the process. The result has been largescale unemployment, the bedfellow of poverty. It is not by coincidence that human trafficking — slavery — has increased markedly across the globe, and is present in our own country. For those employed in the Free Trade Zones of Central America, South East Asia and Sri Lanka (for example), life can be hostile. Many are vulnerable women who work and live under
the greed line Most of us are familiar with the poverty line concept — below which the essentials for living a decent, just and humane life do not exist. Poverty is more than not having enough food and water. It also means lack of access to education, health, hygiene and sanitation, housing, and employment. In a new and controversial development, the ecumenical-based World Council of Churches — at its General Assembly to be held in Busan, South Korea later this year — will discuss the concept of a GREED LINE. During his visit to New Zealand in late 2012, Asia Secretary of the WCC, Rev Kim Dong-Sung, spoke of this initiative which will set measurements for use of natural resources and cash wealth. If you’re above the line, you’re taking more than you need. Below it, you’re using your fair share. This initiative will place responsibility on the rich (individuals and countries) and lighten the burden which has been the lot of the 2 billion experts on poverty — the poor themselves. The Greed Line will hopefully lead to a moral (re)awakening of the extreme scandal of wealth. It is clear that inequality is rooted in structures which require considerable economic analysis and political goodwill
THE REST – The rest make up 92% of the world’s adult population and own 18% of the wealth. EVERYBODY ELSE 69.3% get 3.5%
and UK, are millionaires — a trend in international politics where power and wealth go hand-in-hand. signs of hope So where does this leave us? Is there any sign of hope? As Christians, we know the Scriptures provide both a moral and spiritual compass, and ideals for living a life worthy of God’s creative love. In Acts 4:32ff the early Christians were encouraged to pool resources in support of one another as each had need. Would it be asking too much for individuals, families, Churches, corporations and the rich elite to live with less so that others might live in dignity? Our new Pope, Francis, in his first public address urged the world not to forget or fail to protect the poor. For those struggling in poverty these words must have been ‘manna from heaven’. It is up to us as Christ’s followers, indeed for all humanity, to ensure words and ideals are translated into action. Human dignity and justice, yes even our Creator demands it of us! n Jacqui Ryan is a Dominican sister living in Auckland where she is the northern field worker for Christian World Service and a member of the Asia Pacific Dominican Justice, Peace and Care of Creation network. 7 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
inequality of wealth
vatican ll on poverty and wealth The writer looks at Gaudium et Spes, a seminal document of the second Vatican Council and highlights some ways in which its thought and content tie into and affect our present world order.
he opening passage of the Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes (G & S), may well be the most quoted of the 100,000-plus words contained in the Council’s 16 texts: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties, of the followers of Christ.” (Unfortunately, the Council was held in an era when many church documents used exclusive language.) While G & S is the longest of the conciliar documents, addressing many aspects of its huge subject, those first words are a recurring theme in the text — and in much that has featured in Church teaching and action in subsequent years. That theme is given special emphasis in paragraphs 29, 63 and 66. Asserting that “the equal dignity of persons demands that a more humane and just condition of life be brought about” the document goes on to state that “extreme economic and social differences between the members of the human family or population groups cause scandal, and mitigate against social justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, as well as social and international peace” (para 29). Later, deploring the fact that “many people, especially in economically advanced areas, seem to be hypnotised, as it were, by economics”, the Council concludes that, instead of diminishing social inequalities, the development of economic life all too often “seems only to intensify” them. The text continues: “While an enormous mass of people still lack the absolute necessities of life, some, even in less advanced countries, live sumptuously or squander wealth. Luxury 8 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
and misery rub shoulders. While the few enjoy great freedom of choice, the many are deprived of almost all possibility of acting on their own initiative and responsibility, and often subsist in living and working conditions unworthy of human beings … The wider technical and economic potential which the modern world enjoys can and should correct this unhappy state of affairs” (para 63). Under the heading ‘Removing Huge Differences’, G & S calls for vigorous efforts “to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities which now exist” — and which in many cases “are worsening and are connected with individual and group discrimination” (para 66). was it too optimistic? Although some commentators, including the German theologians Karl Rahner and Josef Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), influenced by Augustinian theology, considered that the view of the world of the mid-1960s articulated in G & S was over-optimistic, this reservation hardly applies to the passages quoted. Nobody had more influence on the contents and direction of the Pastoral Constitution than such French thinkers as the Dominican priests Marie-Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar, together with Father Gerard Philips from Belgium, adviser to the Council Father most responsible for persuading the assembly to issue such an unprecedented conciliar document — the Belgian Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of Malines. In the end, after successive drafts had been subjected to exhaustive and sometimes contentious debates at the 1964 and 1965 Council sessions, the final text somewhat unexpectedly
Dr Micheal Costigan
received wholehearted approval, with a supporting vote of 2,309 and only 75 dissenters. The document endorses and encourages all activity aimed at the socio-economic betterment of the human race, the relief of suffering, the promotion of peace and the elimination of injustice. In all of this, it underlines the distinctive and indispensable role of the Catholic laity. Today, G & S retains its capacity to enlighten and inspire. If a new or updated version or a comparable document were to be issued by the magisterium, it would of course have to heed the many great changes that have occurred in both the Church and the world during the past half-century. developments in the Church The conciliar teaching in this area has been further developed since 1965, notably in later social justice encyclicals by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, in the Holy See’s Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching (2004) and in addresses delivered by Popes during their
travels to many lands. These have been complemented at local level by the statements of national episcopal conferences, including those of New Zealand and Australia, on subjects like peace, the economy, women’s place in the Church and in society, the situation of indigenous populations and the needs of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. Without doubt, G & S was a strong influence and inspiration in preparing research and draft material for a landmark pastoral statement of the Australian Catholic bishops on the distribution of wealth in their country. This statement was published as a book length document in 1992 under the title Common Wealth for the Common Good. As the title of their statement indicates, with its reference to the ‘common good’, the bishops wished to highlight the Council document’s passages on the essential communitarian character of all those who receive Jesus Christ “in faith and love” (section 32). As an aside, the present editor of Tui Motu (as one of many) collaborated with me, as lead researcher, in the writing of this document. The global character of the Church has become increasingly evident since the Council, never more so than in the election of Pope Francis, the first ever Bishop of Rome from the southern hemisphere, coming from the continent with more Catholics than anywhere else. He has also made it clear before and after his election that action to counter injustice and extreme poverty in the world is high on his agenda. Although the decline in church practice and in priestly and religious vocations in developed countries is cause for concern, there is compensation in the growth and flourishing nature of Catholicism in many developing lands. On the negative side, unfortunately, the Church has been compelled to face the grave scandal caused by many cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by some of its personnel. This has created a major distraction
from important tasks like the implementing of Vatican II’s teachings. changes in the world The developments in church life since Vatican II have been accompanied by dramatic and in many cases totally unexpected changes and events in the world. The collapse of communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, symbolised by the fall of the Berlin Wall, was one of the most remarkable. The end of apartheid in South Africa was hailed by freedom-loving people everywhere. While communism did not disappear in China, enormous and to a large extent praiseworthy change has taken place in that country, with its opening to the world, its extraordinary economic development and the rescuing of so many of its huge number of citizens from extreme poverty. The world’s largest democracy, India, has also experienced striking socio-economic progress, although millions of Indians still suffer from grave forms of deprivation. Dictatorships came and went elsewhere in the world, but tyranny survived and caused much violence and injustice in some parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. Terrorism caused terrible suffering and hardship in many places, with the dreadful events of 11th September 2001 in the USA having grave consequences, including wars and the continuing loss of many lives in other parts of the world. While advances in science, technology and communications brought benefits to humanity, but not by any means to everyone, the AIDS pandemic created huge problems and much
Michael Costigan and John Paul II
suffering. And the world over the past five years has struggled to live with the consequences of a global financial crisis created by greed and incompetence. the struggle continues Meanwhile, the struggle for justice and for the eliminating of extreme poverty has continued. For example, speaking of the thousands of child deaths caused by poverty every day, UNICEF says that these children “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” A special moment came with the adoption by 191 countries of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, aimed at achieving significant advances in overcoming extreme poverty and multiple deprivations by 2015. Although the goals are unlikely to be fully achieved by then or even soon afterwards, the initiative has produced some results and continues to stimulate recognition of the need for action. Directing just a small percentage of the money spent by nations on armaments to the alleviation of poverty would make a huge difference. Returning to the inspiration derived from G & S and to the Australian project in which Father Toomey and I were involved two decades ago, I conclude by recalling words the bishops quoted from the late Father Albert Nolan OP: “A thoroughgoing option for the poor includes the willingness to question one’s assumptions and to learn from those who are oppressed.” n Dr Michael Costigan is a former journalist and public servant, who was the executive secretary of the Australian Bishops Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace from 1987 to 2005. In retirement, he is an adjunct professor at the Australian Catholic University. 9 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
inequality of wealth
economic policy and human dignity: “let there be light”
A professor of economics engages with public policy issues concerning the role of economics in New Zealand and possibilities for a different future. Paul Dalziel
well-known joke asks, “How many economists does it take to change a light bulb?” “It’s a trick question,” goes the answer, “because economists will sit in the dark believing the invisible hand of the marketplace will change the light bulb for them.” The joke reflects the frustration many citizens feel about the role economists have played in New Zealand public policy since the rise of Rogernomics in 1984. Almost universally, local economists have designed, promoted and defended market-based policies without any accountability for outcomes such as very high levels of child poverty, very high levels of youth alienation and very high levels of income inequality among households. Internationally, my profession’s record is even more dismal. Recent economist-made disasters include the collapse in 1998 of Long-Term Capital Management (which had two winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics on its Board); the massive market manipulation in 2001 by Enron (which literally turned off light bulbs in California); and the global financial crisis in 2008 (which put an estimated 27
Prof. Paul Dalziel
10 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
million people out of paid work by 2011). The rhetoric of economists after the global financial crisis is sometimes hard to stomach. After decades of a constant chorus for smaller government and light-handed regulation, economists have not hesitated to drain public funds everywhere to prevent the disaster from being a catastrophe and are now attempting to blame regulators for not prohibiting our reckless schemes that caused the damage. improving the common good I have been involved in discussions and arguments about economic policy in New Zealand and overseas for nearly 30 years. I am confident that all economists I have met during that time have been sincere in thinking their advocated policies would improve the common good. Nevertheless, at the risk of slight caricature, I think we economists tend to fall into one of two camps. camp one: free markets The first camp has a quasi-religious faith in the neo-classical economic theory of free markets as an efficient mechanism for allocating resources and creating incentives for human effort and creativity. I say ‘quasi-religious’ because the members of this camp remind me very much of religious leaders who argue (for example) that if every parish celebrates the liturgy precisely as written in the rubrics then the church will be in good heart. This first camp tends to judge all public policy by its conformity to the core tenets of neo-classical theory. When faced with undeniable evidence of poor outcomes, members of this camp either blame the government for not pursuing the theory with sufficient vigour or blame individuals for not taking advantage of the opportunities created in a free market system. Again the religious analogies are straightforward. This camp has been dominant in New Zealand, in part because economics departments in our universities have become virtual seminaries in teaching this approach to the exclusion of other paradigms. It is no coincidence that the most innovative thinking in economic policy to come out of a New Zealand university in recent years was not by an economist
but by a physicist — the late Sir Paul Callaghan in his influential book From Wool to Weta. camp two: human dignity The second camp recognises the place and power of competitive markets, but argues that judgment of any policy rests finally on its impacts on human dignity in New Zealand’s diverse communities. This group is therefore distressed by how vulnerable groups have been placed under greater and greater economic pressure as a result of successive public policies generally serving the interests of the already comfortable elite. This second group of economists does not argue that solutions always lie with greater government spending for low income groups. But we do recognise much more than the first camp that the State in a functioning democracy is a ‘self-help mechanism’ that can play a unique and positive partnership role in community development. amartya sen My own icon in this space is Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, particularly in his 1999 book Development as Freedom. Sen argues that our aim should be to expand “the capabilities of people to lead the kind of lives they value — and have reason to value”. Both aspects of Sen’s definition are vital, people must be allowed to judge their own well-being, but those judgements must be defensible with reason. Sen’s approach to economics is gaining traction internationally. After the 2008 global financial crisis, for example, French President Nicholas Sarkozy invited Sen and two other economists (Joseph Stiglitz and Jean Paul Fitoussi) to explore the limits of the longstanding key economic measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of social progress. Their report was unequivocal: “… it has long been clear that GDP is an inadequate metric to gauge well-being over time particularly in its economic, environmental, and social dimensions, some aspects of which are often referred to as sustainability.”
Consequently the report argued “the time is ripe for our measurement system to shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being.” This conclusion echoed the same finding made 25 years ago by New Zealander Marilyn Waring in her justly famous book Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and Women are Worth, published in 1998. Despite Waring’s early contribution, New Zealand is out of step with this international trend. The Speech from the Throne after the 2008 general election, for example, set out the new government’s driving goal to grow the economy. This goal has been used to justify ill-judged legislation such as removing
social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing from the purpose of local government (see Peter Beck’s critique in Tui Motu, March 2013). a hopeful sign Nevertheless, there is a hopeful sign on the horizon. The New Zealand Treasury has for some years aimed “to be a world-class Treasury working for higher living standards for New Zealanders”. It has recently begun to question itself on what exactly that vision might mean and is coming up with some interesting answers: “Living standards encompass much more than just income or GDP. It also includes a broad range of material and non-material factors which impact on the well-being of both the individual and society (such as trust, education, health and environmental quality).” The Treasury is not overlooking economic growth in its new framework, but also wants to incorporate sustainability for the future, increasing equity, social infrastructure and managing risks. Although this approach is still in its early days, I think it has great potential to promote more reasoned dialogue in New Zealand about economic policy and human dignity. Let there be light… n Dr Paul Dalziel is Professor of Economics at Lincoln University. The Treasury material on living standards can be accessed at www.treasury.govt.nz/abouttreasury/ higherlivingstandards.
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te whare roimata: house of tears Uncle Tip, the first kaumatua, respected the place of women in Te Whare Roimata (TWR) and encouraged their leadership. Cathy Harrison visited TWR and encountered a Maori and Pakeha world view woven into one vision for people on the margins. The interview gathers almost 30 years’ bi-cultural wisdom and experience in stories of an innovative grassroots community.
he social reforms carved by Rogernomics in the early 1980s led to the birth of Te Whare Roimata, a bicultural inner-city community working with disadvantaged people living in boarding-houses and low-rent accommodation on the eastern side of inner-city Christchurch. Ara, a prayerful Christian Māori woman, gave the marae its name Te Whare Roimata, ‘The House of Tears’, tears from hurt and pain, from joy and loss. TWR is about people coming in times of distress or struggle, hurt or aloneness. When you walk into the whare, you feel the aroha. You are captured by the carving on the wall and the surrounding photos of former leaders and community members. There is no hierarchy on this wall. All are remembered and honoured. They are well connected in this community. The carving by John (whose photo now hangs on the wall) once portrayed to the world a self-image of ugliness and despair but in time one of the whanau carved a red sun to surround the face representing the new life and transformation which had occurred. John chose the proverb situated below the carving. It says, Whaia Te Ao Marama — Seek the Knowledge of Life. ‘This is what TWR is about,’ Heeni and Jenny explained. Who are the community of Te Whare Roimata? Before the earthquake most who lived in this part of Christchurch East were single, living alone, in old bed sits or low income units. Connections to their own families were not strong. Complications made it difficult for them to reconnect, or at times 12 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
Catherine Harrison many were not understood by their biological whanau. In different parts of the inner city there are younger or older people. It’s a very diverse community; it’s also ethnically diverse. The quake changed some of this because a number of Somali and Asian families have left town along with young people who went to the language schools. Even so we are still ethnically diverse. We’re fortunate with our kaumatua structure — the older, wiser head sits quietly with people and works gently through matters. They consider what’s needed to support a person. Sometimes it involves a whanau hui where we talk honestly and enable both groups to have their say, negotiate and work through issues. What is TWR’s vision? Manaakitanga, aroha, awhi and whakawhanaunatanga are at the heart of this place — hospitality, love, support, connecting and belonging. Awhi is to support and to journey beside another person, to accept them as they are. It is also to help them begin the journey of growth, to believe in them — sometimes this means to love them enough to put in some boundaries, to look at other ways of presenting support. It is a valuing of other. From the outset we wanted to walk a bicultural journey. We wanted it to be authentic not just a ‘kia ora’ sharing. We asked, “What does the Treaty demand of us?” We shared our resources and gave recognition to the place of Māori as tangata whenua. They had the right to develop their own responses, their own ways of working.
Uncle Tip said that TWR was a woman’s wairua. It was the women who provided the backbone, the nurture, the love, the care. He defined that as the feminine quality. What are the activities and programmes? We always start the week with a whanau hui. We come together to catch up, hear about what’s going to happen during the week, talk about what happened in the previous week. Then we share kai together and sing and learn waiata — that’s before we go off for the week. Each day has its particular rhythm. We may visit people; the boys go off to the garden; or there are events happening. Since the earthquake we have begun computer classes. We have a labour pool of people, often marginalised, who offer support to others who are struggling. We have a mobile information service on Stanmore Road. We set up our little mobile table and chairs. Sometimes it might just be sharing a cuppa and saying hello, but after a few weeks somebody might say, “I’ve got these issues” and we keep on building trust. Or we might say, “Would you like to join us at the Thursday luncheon?” There’s a partnership between us and the neighbourhood group. It’s difficult to estimate numbers in terms of TRM community but we deliver 3000 newsletters. The garden of over an acre involves the community — people supporting and teaching one another. It connects people to one another and to the earth. It expresses a commitment
to sustainability, a neighbourhood model of recycling and reusing. The benefit cuts of 1992 led to the development of a Café in preference to a Soup Kitchen. The café scene was developing. We asked, why couldn’t people come to a neighbourhood café for a healthy meal with their family and be waited on? It was like the café up town but in our neighbourhood. We provided training. People coming to eat wanted to be waiters or help with the cooking. So we combined the learning with the sense of community. This led to the Older Person’s Project. When the older people who came here got sick our outreach workers were with them in their last days, maybe even in their last hours, because they had nobody else. They came here for their tangi. We would tidy their belongings or sort their affairs. Life and death — that was the ebb and flow of this community. The Linwood community arts centre started in women’s suffrage year. Twenty talented women artists organized an art exhibition. The old Linwood Library became available. Now artists exhibit their work and supplement their income from sales. There are festivals, children’s art projects — all manner of things relating to the arts. It’s great watching people begin that journey; affirmation from exhibitions has assisted personal growth and reduced barriers. After the earthquake we were relocated to 468 Worcester Street. We’re still there. The gold coin Thursday luncheon — a shared meal began making it easier to connect by day as people didn’t want to go out at night. All these activities express core values which are about creating a just world, ensuring that those on the margins of society are recognised and have a place to be. At the heart of it is the connectedness, the turangawaewae, the family.
Relationships are critical. Many a beginning happens over a cup of tea as you share in a non-threatening way.
Heeni Kahukiwa and Jenny Smith, kaumatua of Te Whare Roimata
But unless it’s a trusting relationship it can’t happen. And it takes time. People have to feel that they can develop grassroots solutions to issues. You engage in political action to achieve structural change? Yes. Political action has been at different levels — if you can’t get the system to move you have to find other ways to create structures for those excluded. We’ve worked both ways — to get the system to shift or understand; as well as trying to create alternatives. A lot of issues worked on before the foreshore and seabed issue arose were defined by Pākehā. But that issue captured TWR, especially Māori. As they mobilised people discussed it. They became active, began a journey which impacted upon other issues. Progress — who is it for? The wealthy. And who misses out? Those who have no voice, or a very tenuous voice. They become invisible. Because none of the developments in this neighbourhood targeted low income
people, we founded the Latimer Community Housing Trust to secure affordable housing. The earthquake helped the Trust get a little piece of land. Now we’re working to secure additional funding so we can build. You’ve been busy with new developments? Yes. Accommodation is needed. After the 22 February quake we knew that this area was changed forever. We lost all of the bed-sit buildings. Many people from the neighbourhood became homeless that day. Many have gone — though some have crept back and are living rough, squatting in buildings, because this is their community. The bedsit landlords with social hearts are really struggling. Some won’t be able to rebuild — insurance payouts won’t permit it. We’ve researched this, raised awareness, had input into the Council, Building and Housing, the Ministry of Social Development, and Social Justice Unit of Anglican Care. We’ve had discussions with landlords. We hope there might be a government loan, later written-off, for landlords to provide affordable housing. We’ve had a long tradition with welfare stuff; used photography and enabled people to tell their stories to raise awareness. We hope the decision-makers realise there’s an innercity community who are tenants, not landowners. They’re disenfranchised; they weren’t consulted. Now there’s a neighbourhood association and the Council recognises that it needs to come and talk. You can have a voice and it can go into the mix of other voices. That’s very important. If you experience injustice and you’re part of a group you can ask why is this happening? Then we can ask, what can we do about it? Our strength is the fact that we’re together, a grassroots community seeking the knowledge of life. Whaia Te Ao Marama. n 13 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
christ in the suburbs - part ll In the first part of the story of the Aranui Sisters of Mercy community, Pauline O’Regan, Helen Goggin, and Marie McCrea told of how their community began. Continuing this story, Cathy Harrison recounts the development of the Sisters’ involvement with the local neighbourhood, and how the Spirit worked with them in that, as well as in their work with the local Church community. Catherine Harrison
n the course of their preparation for the move to Aranui the Sisters were advised that they would be exposed to drug-taking and domestic violence. “In a way, that’s what we went looking for but didn’t find a lot of it,” Pauline continued. What they found was loneliness, especially among women at home alone with small children.
the most important contribution we have been able to make in the lives of our neighbours.” Even though a lot of Catholics supported the sisters there were some who questioned why they weren’t teaching their daughters. But the people in the street just regarded them as neighbours. “They were enormously welcoming and loving,” Helen said.
the gift of presence “We believed then that it was possible for religious to be a ‘sign of hope’ to ordinary people with or without any religious beliefs, simply by living among them, as one of them, as a ‘presence’ … This presence, unable to be measured as a statistic, is probably
a second mercy community In 1977 the Congregation established another small community at Parklands. Teresa, in particular, realised that a pastoral role wasn’t enough — a structured system was needed to allow women to develop their gifts and become the full people
From left to right: Mercy Sisters Helen Goggin, Pauline O’Regan, and Marie McCrae
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they were meant to be and leaders in their community. Marie remembered how heartening it was to have Colleen McBride and Father Kevin Burns, among others, share their vision. With Father Denis Whelan, they door-knocked the Parklands district to discern the community’s needs. The result was the community development scheme — remaking the social fabric, as Pope Paul VI said, at the level of the street. community development scheme They established coffee groups. What happened there was really powerful. The groups led to the development of training sessions dealing with conflict, leadership skills, listening, and other topics. Within a couple of years the programmes were offered to other people in the Church and in the wider community. Sometimes this was done in conjunction with others, for example, Catholic Social Services and in the establishment of the programme ‘Women at the Well’. It was exciting working with people like Anne McCormack who were motivated by the Gospel. Marie soon realised that a lot of women had deep psychological issues she wasn’t qualified to handle, so she trained under Helen Campbell as a clinical transactional analyst. “Our motto,” Marie said, “was ‘I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance’ (John 10:10). It was really important to allow people to achieve that kind of internal healing — especially mothers who were the centre of a family — and if they couldn’t
discover themselves and become confident, it had an effect on the whole family and not just on the mother.” “It was very much the development model. Teresa was very passionate about that,” Pauline remembered. “If someone else could be trained to do it, then it wasn’t our place to do it.” And if other groups offered good programmes, as Barnados did with parenting skills, the sisters moved on to other areas of need. vision of empowering/ encouragement The gospel vision is not to create dependence — empowering and encouraging people is the most important part of the Sisters’ work. Teresa would tap people on the shoulder and say, “I think you can do this.” They would reply, “I’m not sure,” because they were unsure of their gifts. But eventually they would give things a go within the safe structures the sisters provided. It was very important not to set up for failure people who were already lacking in confidence. “So we made certain that they succeeded,” Pauline said. The Sisters have always been great defenders of the people of Aranui because they’ve had such a bad press. Nobody wanted to live in Hampshire Street, but the sisters did. And they found themselves living among the “the most beautiful people”. “If I were to say what I gained,” Pauline said, “it would be the knowledge that God was so present in the world. If we went with zeal to take Christ to the suburbs and found Christ out there waiting for us, then the whole question of Church became very complex because we met very holy people who never darkened the door of a church. It was almost dismaying for us — a wonderful revelation of how the Spirit was present in the world. I’d put that at the top of my gains.” “The most memorable thing for me in those very early days,” Marie said, “was getting to know the women who had such a struggle but were so courageous. Many were alone, raising
families. They went about their work quietly. It was a gift to have them share what was going on in their lives. “I’ve been transformed by the people I’ve met — just as they’ve been transformed by us — and we journeyed with them in a way. They trusted you enough to tell you anything. That’s absolutely profound, very moving, sacred.” Was that a surprise? “Yes,” Pauline was sure about this. “We’d lived in a very enclosed world and everyone told us how good we were — the good Sisters — and you can forget that there’s holiness outside — it’s a twoway process. It made us humble. They gave us their whole hearts really.”
Nobody wanted to live in Hampshire Street, but the sisters did. And they found themselves living among the “the most beautiful people”. an authentic lifestyle The Sisters reflected that their move to Aranui in February 1973 convinced them of the authenticity of their new life-style. There was no loving the poor ‘at a distance’ for Catherine McAuley. So in her footsteps uncluttered by buildings and possessions they had the freedom of Christ to answer and respond to human need. authentic church community Marie remembered what was most lifegiving to their community. “Being part of that exciting Church in the late 70s in Burwood, under the leadership of Father Kevin Burns, seeing the people living out their baptismal commitment — there was a wonderful sense of belonging to a vibrant Church, a prophetic Church. It wasn’t just us — it was how all the baptised played their part in the Church.” “We all grieved when the restructuring of that parish at Burwood was imposed,” Pauline lamented.
‘”But it’s given me the chance to see how the Spirit works from adversity — because, broken up, people have been saved from a comfortable togetherness. As a result, they’ve gone out into other worlds and taken their Spirit with them.” What seems like an end is really a beginning! community reflection The Sisters’ communities at Aranui and Burwood survived because they were held together by community prayer, sharing, community living, planning and evaluation days and the guidance of Father Eugene O’Sullivan OP. Forty years on they still have their monthly meetings. Pauline clearly understood that “It’s a tyranny not to have structures. We kept those that were necessary — prayer, meditation, study. It’s necessary, however, to know how many structures to keep and when to throw them out because they’re no longer needed. The temptation after Vatican II was for small communities to expose themselves to the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’.” Eugene used to talk to them about going to the dump and retrieving what had been thrown away. One of the things the Sisters retrieved is the Angelus — ‘a beautiful prayer’ which they say every night before their meal. They even have a little bell which they ring. How do they see this life in them seeding life in the community at large? “It’s there,” Helen said, “like the experience the women had in the NorthEast Community Development Scheme — those women have gone out into the community … It’s like a ripple in a stream … It goes wider and wider. The Spirit spreads with them.” the impact of presence Although the Sisters no longer live in Hampshire Street, they remain in Christchurch East. The impact of their ‘presence’ continues, for ‘mercy’ has no geographical boundaries. n 15 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
Pope Francis washes the feet of young men and women detained at the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors.
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Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio w an argentinian woman
Foot Washing An irregular phase occurred within the meal, an unpredictable pause. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, usually a demeaning, common practice done by servants or slaves. They came with sweaty, dusty, sandaled feet soiled by animal and tipped-out-the-windowshuman waste. For Holy Thursday Mass Pope Francis went to Casa del Marmo Juvenile Detention Centre; not to St. Peter’s or the Lateran; not to the feet of seminarians or priests. Welcomed first by three women, he washed and kissed the feet of 12 young inmates including two women, one of whom is from the Serbian-Muslim tradition — the feet of the poor and marginalised. Already disciples, Peter and the others did not understand. More was needed. A new way of being through a status-transforming ritual, under the rubric of “unless”:
“Unless one is born anew, one cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3) “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (6:54) “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (12:24) “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me … for I have given you an example …” (13:8, 15) Many did not understand. Many were delighted. The rubrics shifted. The movement of two tectonic plates: the institutional dimension (the Pope) and the charismatic dimension (the Jesuit and his order’s charism of action for the poor) return the Church to tradition. For Pope Francis departs not
from tradition but from a modern explicitly exclusive innovation. A woman was on the list of widows only if she had “shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet” (1 Timothy 5:10). Foot washing, called the mandatum, unfolds in two forms: an act of hospitality to strangers, the poor, pilgrims and guests; and an act of humble service to other Christians, mainly in monastic communities of men and women. Over the centuries Christians struggled, as when Pope Zacharias wrote to St. Boniface in 751: “For also you have asked this: is it lawful for religious women, as it is for men, to wash each other’s feet, both on Holy Thursday and also on other days? … This is the Lord’s precept …” Near that time, Caesarius of Arles tells of powerful noble men and delicate women who refused to wash the feet of the saints and strangers. The rites of the Washing of the Feet of the Poor and the Washing the Feet of the Community continued. Yet eventually they died out. These rites are in the liturgical books issued after the 16th century Council of Trent, which was the official Church position until the 1956 Holy Week reforms. In modern times, Jesus’ radical action was institutionalised in a departure from those rites. “A new evolution in the history of the mandatum” is how a 1950s commentary describes the optional reformed rite of foot washing. There was a shift from the washing of the feet of the poor and of the community to sacred drama. The priest, representing Jesus, was to wash the feet of men representing his disciples. The current directive to wash the feet of ‘selected men’ arose in the 1972 revision of the Easter ceremonies restored two decades previously. Clerical overlays developed, confining this rite to men. “I do not call you servants any more … I have called you friends … so that you may love one another.” (John 15:15, 17) Foot washing looks to the future, preparation for a new way of being. Maria Elena, sister of Francis, said recently: “He’s teaching and delivering his pastoral messages the way he was taught to do it, which is by example. It’s not about talking the talk, but about walking the walk.”
washes the feet of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) washing the feet of a woman in Argentina in 2001.
– Kathleen Rushton RSM
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lots of forgiveness, asked for or not A spiritual reflection on the gospel parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32). Glynn Cardy
he Prodigal Son has three main characters. The forgiving father represents God. The elder son represents those who considered themselves faithful, keeping God’s commandments, like Jesus’ pharisaic critics. The younger son represents those considered outside the boundaries of faith, categorized as ‘sinners’, like prostitutes and tax collectors. In this story God is portrayed as valuing the relationships between people above beliefs and conventions. Rather than obey the society’s and religion’s rules and expectations, forgiving Godly love bypasses such boundaries to bring the disgraced one and the disgruntled one back into relationship. In this parable there are six shameful acts. The first two happen immediately. The younger son, maybe a 17 year old, asks for his share of the property, and the father gives it. the primary wrongdoing The primary act of wrongdoing by the younger son was not misusing his inheritance but asking for it. When he asks for his share of the property it is tantamount to wishing his father dead, for property passed on to the next generation only after death. act two The second shameful act in this story is the father’s. In granting his youngest son’s request he shows himself to be a fool. In ceding a third of the estate, that the younger was entitled to, the father put in jeopardy the financial well-being of the whole family unit. As events unfolded, with the younger son frittering his finances away, the 18 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
The Return of the Prodigal Son (c. 1661–1669) by Rembrandt van Rijn
father’s wanton generosity would have been seen as bringing shame upon the family. The younger son came to the father and insulted him by demanding the resources to be free. The son did not want to be caged by family responsibilities. The father, like many parents, thought of the consequences of denying the request. Then knowing that his other dependents
and neighbours would think him foolhardy and irresponsible, yet also knowing that satisfying relationships can never flourish where there is coercion, the father took a deep breath and said yes. act three The third shameful act was the youngest son’s squandering of the inheritance. It’s portrayed as self-destructive.
Working for a profane foreigner and feeding profane pigs are signals to the Jewish audience that he not only has sunk as low as he can go, but he has also lost his faith. His squandering also loses him his family — for he would in future have no means to fulfill his duties and provide support to his kin. The young prodigal ‘comes to himself ’ and decides to return to the ancestral home in order to work as a hired hand. He is desperate. He has no expectation that he will be restored to the privilege of being a son. Indeed he can no longer be a son for he has forfeited those rights.
So let us treat one another as the story’s father treats his sons: with respect, kindness, tolerance, and lots of forgiveness whether asked for or not. act four The fourth shameful act was the manner of the father’s forgiveness. He goes overboard. He seems to have been looking out for this reprobate. He runs, kisses and hugs him. He confers forgiveness when there is no evidence of the son’s sincerity, or even the request for such forgiveness. This display of emotion by the father indicates that God’s nature is not bound by the expected legal and hierarchical roles but rather by a deep and nurturing love for the ones that are suffering. The father’s disregard of legalities is evident when he asks his slaves to carry out orders that have the appearance of restoring the son to his former status, not inducting him into the duties of a hired hand. Forgiving Godly love not only wants to welcome and include but it also wants to restore. The father has received the son back and as was normal is still in
control of the property. The welcome means that the younger son can be supported from the property as long as the father lives. In a limited-goods society however the youngest son has not only wasted one third of their communal resources but by being received back will ultimately be a financial burden to the detriment of his elder brother. act five The fifth shameful act is that of the elder brother, who is a characterization of those Pharisees and Scribes who do not like Jesus welcoming and dining with ‘sinners’. He feels the reception of his wayward sibling is unjust. He does not want to join in the feast given on the return of the prodigal. He is angry. The elder brother’s refusal to dine with his father is culturally also a very shameful act. Just as the younger boy shamed the patriarch in asking for his inheritance so the elder shames his father by not eating with them. He violates the 4th commandment: honour your father and your mother (Ex 22:12). The elder son sees the father as having brought dishonour on the family by ceding to his brother’s request and then welcoming him back. He sees his younger sibling as having brought dishonour in both his request for inheritance and his squandering of it. The prodigal has further shamed the family, according to the eldest’s fantasies, by consorting with prostitutes, therefore compromising the family’s bloodline. the last act The sixth shameful act is the father’s response to this jealous elder brother. As in his dealings with the younger, the father refuses to assert the authority and discipline of the patriarchal entitlement. He comes out to him and affirms him as a companion and co-owner of the farm. The father’s response however goes beyond a simple legal affirmation that the elder is the one true
heir and addresses him with the affectionate term teknon: ‘child’. The father is stepping away from dealing with this family crisis by legal means. Addressing the elder brother as child serves the same function as the kissing and embracing of the younger son. It is relationality not legality that is paramount. It is the finding and loving of his children that concerns him, not his own honour. Forgiving godly love seeks not to defend its own honour and importance but to reach out to heal and embrace. The father rejects neither of his sons. Upon his death the estate will go to the eldest who will assume the responsibilities of the patriarch. Yet the father is interested in the end not in inheritance but the ongoing relationship between the two boys. The purpose of doing the dishonorable thing and allowing the younger his inheritance, unconditionally forgiving this son, and coming out to the elder son who has shamed him is for relationship, and ultimately for relationship not with him but between the two sons. how are we sisters and brothers? Similarly the power of forgiving love that we call God is primarily interested in reconciliation between insiders and outsiders in society, rather than legalities and moralities. Such love wants to find ways to affirm and include all, no matter what we’ve done or believe. Maybe the most powerful message of the parable is the most obvious: the tax collector and sinner are brothers to the Pharisee and Scribe. Likewise we are all connected to one another. So let us treat one another as the story’s father treats his sons: with respect, kindness, tolerance, and lots of forgiveness whether asked for or not. n Rev Glynn Cardy is the Vicar of St. Matthews-in-the-City Anglican Church. 19 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
a nuclear weapon-free world? With the heightened awareness of the possibility of nuclear genocide with the Korean Peninsula standoff, this article looks at an initiative of the Norwegian Government to free our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons.
n snowy Oslo in the first week of March, my wife Kate Dewes and I witnessed the most exciting breakthrough since 1996 in the struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world. inspired by ICAN It was inspired by a vigorous new Australia-initiated citizen movement, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), with 300 partner organisations in 70 countries (www.icanw.org). ICAN invited me to speak about my book Security Without Nuclear Deterrence — on my experience as a former operator of British nuclear weapons turned anti-nuclear campaigner — during the run-up to the unprecedented government conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons hosted by the Norwegian Government. From the moment we arrived in the Oslo University Students’ Society building, the Forum venue, we sensed fresh energy and anticipation in the already bracing air. At least a third of the 500 delegates from 70 countries were young and new to the nuclear disarmament struggle, most of them sporting scarlet ICAN t-shirts. the authors’ panel The authors’ panel was facilitated by young mother Stine Rødmyr, chair of the Norwegian equivalent of CND, During over an hour of lively discussion with a big and knowledgeable audience, I explained why I had concluded that the dogma of nuclear deterrence is not just a myth, but a deliberate hoax concocted by the US military-industrial complex now dominating and distorting American politics and foreign policy for its vested interests. I also pointed out 20 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
Robert Green that the nuclear weapon states are in denial about the economic, agricultural and health effects of a failure of nuclear deterrence — which is why this conference was so important.
Plunging temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere would cause hundreds of millions of people to starve to death, even in countries far from the conflict. martin sheen’s experience At a hugely successful evening gala event, the American film star Martin Sheen — the US President in the West Wing TV series — recounted his experience of being in India during the making of the movie Gandhi, which awakened his faith. He delighted his 900-strong audience when he quipped: “If Gandhi and Martin Luther King were still alive, they would have joined ICAN!” Sheen had met Dan and Phil Berrigan, the famous American Catholic priests and peace activists, who pushed him to work publicly for peace. This took him to a protest in the Nevada desert, where he watched a line of nuns dance their way onto the US nuclear test site and get arrested. He said: “Their courage helped me to live my Christian faith,” and he went on to be arrested scores of times himself. The audience were enthralled when Sheen hugged Karipbek Kuyukov, an armless Kazakhstan artist and second-generation victim of Soviet nuclear testing
at Semipalatinsk who was introduced to him. An extraordinary exhibition of Kuyukov’s paintings, painted with his feet, was on display outside the conference hall of the government conference. the panel on ethics The next day Sheen’s charismatic US interviewer, Father John Dear SJ, spoke on a panel on ‘Ethics in International Politics’ with Cardinal John Onaiyekan from Nigeria, who left afterwards for the Vatican conclave in Rome. The Cardinal spoke passionately against war and nuclear weapons, and the need for a deeper spirituality and morality in the world so that these weapons could be disarmed. Dear commented that neither he nor Sheen “have ever attended any gathering like this, led by a government actively pursuing nuclear disarmament.” norway’s welcome Delegations from some 130 states assembled in the huge hotel conference room. When Norway’s Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, welcomed delegates, he was building on Norway’s courageous leadership in the successful campaigns to negotiate global treaties banning and eliminating other inhumane weapons: anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Of the nuclear weapon states, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — known as the ‘P5’ — were conspicuous by their absence; but India and Pakistan sent delegations. the leading role of the ICRC What we found so thrilling was the
research findings by climate scientists Alan Robock and Owen Toon. They had applied the latest climate computer models to the impact of a small regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan involving detonation of only a hundred Hiroshima-size weapons. They were shocked to discover that, apart from the mutual carnage and destruction across South Asia, enough smoke from firestorms — let alone radioactive fallout — would be generated to cripple global agriculture. Plunging temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere would cause hundreds of millions of people to starve to death, even in countries far from the conflict. For more details, see www. nuclearfamine.org. The nuclear weapon states simply refuse to discuss this.
leading role played by the International Committee of the Red Cross. In his opening address the ICRC President, Peter Maurer, said it was astounding that states had never before come together to address the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, including their long-term health and climatic effects. As he spoke of this “unique and historic opportunity”, I saw a smiling young pregnant woman delegate nearby in the audience gently stroke her belly. Maurer boldly set the pace by reporting that the ICRC had recently concluded from a specially commissioned study that no national or international capability existed to help survivors of even a single nuclear weapon detonation. This was why, he declared, “prevention — including development of a legally binding treaty to prohibit and eliminate such weapons — is the only way forward.”
government responses The rest of the conference was devoted to responses from government delegations. Even India’s was supportive. New Zealand’s forthright Disarmament Ambassador, Dell Higgie, startled us when she said: “New Zealand’s experience of the Christchurch earthquakes showed that, despite considerable preparation, the 22 February 2011 quake overwhelmed the emergency services; there was confusion, chaos among police and the fire service. A nuclear detonation would be a disaster no country can plan for.”
challenge to US, UK & France At a crowded press conference, the Norwegian Foreign Minister was asked why Norway had called the conference now. He retorted: “Why has it not happened before?” When challenged that Norway belonged to a nuclear alliance, NATO, he pointed out that all 25 non-nuclear NATO member states were present — implying that only the three nuclear members, the US, UK and France, had boycotted it. medical and health effects In subsequent sessions, scientists and medical experts spelt out the realities and health effects of a nuclear weapon detonation. These were dramatized by Rt Rev Laurence Yutaka Minabe, Anglican Bishop of Yokohama, born of Hiroshima survivors. Speaking softly from the floor, he told how his father recovered from severe burns only to die of radiation-induced blood cancer 30 years later. shocking results Dr Ira Helfand, an American physician and adviser to ICAN, focused on recent
Top to bottom: Martin Sheen; Young Norwegians waving placards; Fr John Dear SJ; Posters at the conference..
undp help to the pacific We were also pleasantly surprised to discover that the UN Development Programme had helped four South Pacific island states (Cook Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tuvalu) to send delegations. Appropriately, the conference was being held during Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Week. Patrick Akaiti Arioka, from the Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister’s office, spoke on behalf of all 22 small island states of the Pacific. He pointed out that their region was living with the consequences of 181 French nuclear tests, including a perilously fragile former test site in a cracked coral . . . continued on page 25 21 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
an open letter to pope francis After analysing the present state of the Catholic Church and her five wounds, the writer sets out her dream conversations between Pope Francis and some bishops. Anna Holmes Dear Pope Francis, Taking the name of Francis of Assisi, who not only had dialogue with the Moslems but challenged the Papacy to reform, you carry the hopes and prayers of many in the church. As the first Francis, the first Jesuit and the first non-European we look forward to a new beginning with you. In February Benedict XVI courageously resigned, recognising that the task of governance in the church was beyond him. There is speculation that his reason was the same as the last Pope to resign, Celestine V who resigned in 1294 because of the entrenched intrigues in the Papal Court. May you be blessed with the integrity and strength to heal the wounds of the Church. Healing is about the whole organism, not fragments of it. It is often confused with cure — which is the returning to normal the part of a body that is not healthy. Healing is much more than this – it is recognising that body, mind, spirit and community all need to be enabled, to grow whole again. At this time there are five major wounds of the Church: the misuse of power Over millennia this has led to clericalism and a Roman monoculture. The growth of legalism and central control has been unchecked over the past two papacies. It is as if the Curia and some bishops are above criticism and have no responsibility to love, respect and listen to others of different viewpoints. A major effect of the misuse of power is lack of transparency and accountability in all areas in the church. This has led to a tragic growth of sexual abuse as well as mistreatment of others in the church. There has been a huge exodus from the church as a result. 22 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
The latest example of this behaviour has been the imposition of a new English liturgy in the face of protest and opposition from both bishops and English speaking people around the world. The new liturgy harks back to a worldview where the church was monarchical and hierarchical and complex language was used to mystify and distance ‘ordinary’ people. lack of faith Those who feel the church must be controlled in every detail have no faith in an ever-present God of love. They do not trust God to take care of all people. They fail to appreciate the many ways in which God is present in the incredible richness and complexity of human cultures. They arrogantly think that only their understanding of God is valid. Such a narrow God is surely an idol. There has also been a return to dualism as if body and spirit could be addressed separately. This is quite out of keeping with the current worldview in which all things are totally inter-related. lack of hospitality Hospitality, welcoming all, was a marked feature of Jesus’ ministry. Hospitality accepts others as other. Inculturation, the use of local customs, was accepted by Vatican II and practiced for a brief time before gradually being suppressed. The institutional church has been notably neglectful of care of the poorest and marginalized, while speaking very well about it. There is also need to challenge the powerful and greedy. The failure to enter into dialogue with other faiths and cultures is another example of lack of hospitality. The church institution spends more time and energy dealing with its members than with strangers.
refusal to dialogue with the post-modern world The church seems stuck in a modernist worldview about control, power and individualism and fails to embrace the fundamental change in worldview that is part of a quantum world. In this world everything is totally interconnected. In such a world the formation of community, unity in diversity, is central. It is interesting to recall that Karl Rahner, as long ago as 1980, proposed that the church of the future would be a church of mystics. Mystics have always seen the world as totally interconnected with God. They have also often seemed to threaten the church institution because they were not controllable. misogynism Jesus had many theological discussions with women and was changed by their presence and actions. His church needs to do likewise. The exclusion of women at all levels of the church is an ongoing scandal. It fails to recognise men and women, not men alone, are the fullness of humanity. A recent example has been the Vatican persecution of women religious in North America. These women work with the poorest and most outcast and in so doing challenge the rich and powerful as well as the institutional church. All these wounds are interrelated and intertwined. The love of power leads to a lack of collegiality, clericalism legalism and sexual abuse. The lack of hospitality leads to a rejection of those most in need of the church and conflict with other faiths. The fear of loss of power and misogynism leads to the exclusion of women. So the poor, the outcasts and the stranger are left outside while the rich feast within. Yet who did Jesus serve? After almost
Pope Francis kisses a disabled man he sees in the crowd. [Catholic News Service photo/L’Osservatore Romano]
half a century of the practice of medicine I am absolutely convinced that listening to suffering humanity makes us grow in ways we cannot imagine. a dream? Dear Pope Francis, I have a dream that you call the powerful men of the church to see you. To each you give a special message. They are not going to do anything, but simply be among the poor and needy to listen and learn from them. The conversations might go something like this. “Bishop V, how are your students faring? I hear how successful you have been teaching in the Angelicum. I have a very particular challenge for you today. I would like you to go to this large mental hospital and be an assistant carer to the patients. They will teach you more about yourself and the needs of humanity than you believe possible. “Cardinal W, what a pleasure to see you. I think we last met at the gathering of Heads of State. You were so enjoying the good food, good wine, sparkling conversation and beautiful women who knew how to treat you with the respect you deserve. For you I have a special task. You will go to the steps of the city church where the bag ladies gather. They get food from
the rubbish bins and share it with each other. Sometimes they are lucky enough to find some wine to go with it. You will sit where they gather, dressed for the occasion in workmen’s clothes. Remember the Syrophoenician woman who ran after Jesus shouting at him to heal her daughter? These are her descendents. And Cardinal, don’t forget to smile your most loving smile, for they need all the love they can get after lives of deprivation and rejection. “Well, Cardinal X, I know you have been very diligent in pursuing the issue of fallen women. You will go to listen to the stories of the prostitutes. Like Jesus, you are not there to judge but to listen. You are not there to argue but to hear their stories of pain, betrayal and abuse. Go in peace, wear ordinary clothes, no ring, no formal dress. Just listen. “Buon Giorno, Cardinal Y. What a battle you have had with the issue of gay marriage. You have really been under fire from some of the newspapers. Here is your task. You are to go to the gay bars in the city. You are not there to change people – that is God’s work. You are just there to hear the stories. The sadness and yearning for love. “Ah, Cardinal Z. For you I have a special task. I know how you revere
the drama and vestments of ancient liturgy. However, that is not the experience of those in the barrios where I am sending you. You will dress like the people of the barrios and just sit in the square and see what you see. The poor share with one another. They take care of those who are mentally disturbed or physically disabled. Do not say anything. Just sit, listen and see.” Already, Pope Francis, you seem to be refusing to be held in the straightjacket of unnecessary traditions. Paying your own hotel bill. Stopping to talk to pilgrims. Washing the feet of women as well as men on Holy Thursday. May you be given the strength to continue on this path. My prayer is that in this great work of re-evangelisation we will develop a church of loving, hospitable, open, humble, men and women who really will have the power to attract and change the world. Blessings and Peace to you this Easter Season. n Dr Anna Holmes is a retired Dunedin general practitioner who has recently completed a doctorate on the spirituality of general practice. She was a founding member of Women Knowing Their Place. 23 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
a pope for our times Jim Consedine
’m starting to like this new pope. Admittedly it is early days, but the signs are promising that he operates out of a freedom of spirit rarely seen in people of authority. I quite like the cut of his jib! signs and symbols The recent picture on the front pages of the world media of the pope kneeling and washing the feet of young men and women, Orthodox Christians and Muslims as well as Catholics at a Rome prison spoke more of his mature spirituality than a dozen encyclicals. “This is a symbol. It is a sign. Washing your feet means that I am at your service,” he told them. It was much more a symbol of a special type of leadership. Francis is a free man. He has not been colonised by Roman practice. Clearly he believes in the freedom won by Jesus on the Cross. He has taken the Easter events seriously. In a single move he de-institutionalised a piece of liturgy crying out for attention. In so doing, he sent a strong signal about freedom within the Church. Is he also setting aside the authoritarian model of papacy which has dominated during the past 35 years? In so doing, he has sent shock waves throughout the bureaucracy, signaling to the Church that the message of Jesus is simple but radical and is to be applied literally to the poor. Their ‘feet are to be washed’. It is not going to be business as usual. an easy ride? He shouldn’t expect an easy ride. There will be many who will block his every move. One has only to read a history of the papacy and, in recent times, the Second Vatican Council,
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to know that despite the pope’s obvious wishes, there are powerful blocs of both clerics and laity who will stop at nothing to maintain their positions of power and control. This pope has one thing going for him. He will have the ordinary people of God on his side. He speaks to their needs. fault lines This pope seems to recognize that there are major fault lines in the Church’s structure, some of which have recently become exposed to the wider world. He won’t be able to deal with them all but he may be able to tackle a few. the educated walk In the past 40 years, the seepage of the educated from the Church in Western countries has been immense. Tens of thousands of theologically literate men and women have found the structures too unbending, too out of touch with the real world and their own daily lives. They have simply walked away. Many have lost faith not just in the Church and its mission but in God and in the role of Christ in their lives. That has been a tragic spin off and its effects are felt everywhere. This trend needs to be turned around. People need to be empowered at their level of skill. exodus of priests In addition, the thousands of Vatican II priests who have left the ministry have been a special loss because the Church has traditionally tied the celebration of the Eucharist to a presiding priest. Now the priests are no longer there. So the inevitable happens. Mass is no longer available as an easily accessible normal frequent practice. Parishes all over the world
are having to amalgamate, purely to cater for the shortage of priests. The Eucharist needs to resume its place as the natural place for Christians to meet in worship — just as Jesus taught. “Do this in memory of me.” He didn’t say occasionally. biblical literacy Another major fault line needing attention has to be the biblical illiteracy of so many Catholics. Nearly 50 years after Vatican II empowered laity to become bearers of the Word and responsible in spreading it to others, how many Catholics can do that adequately now? So few. Surely that is partly because of the way we have structured its official proclamation through sermons and homilies which only a diminishing number of male celibate priests can proclaim? We have failed to encourage the Church members generally to make the Word their own and enflesh it through their own study and practice. Familiarity with the scriptures should be bread and butter for practicing Catholics. It has been an opportunity lost. Now instead of giving Christians the real meat of the scriptures to study and proclaim and nourish them, we are reverting to devotional practices which grew out of an ‘adolescent’ period in the Church’s development. The only problem with that is the Western world has had an education explosion. An adolescent level is no longer enough. So while devotional practices have a role, the proper knowledge and study of scripture should take pride of place and provide focus for the wider Church. parish community leadership Worldwide, the structures are no longer providing the leadership
necessary to successfully lead parish communities. That is partly because lay people, and women in particular, are not eligible to do the basic Christian ministries of preaching and presiding over the sacraments, including the Eucharist. The command of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me” is no longer adhered to. The wreckage from this fault line alone is strewn everywhere, and has been for decades. It has led directly to the closing down of parishes at a time when everything else has been expanding. new clerical caste A corollary of this has been the emergence of a new clerical caste where all power lies ultimately with the priest in conjunction with the bishop. This is simply bad theology, spawned by an ideology of control. The spin on this development is that somehow Christ taught it this way. This is not true, of course. eyes to see the poor The Church wasn’t in existence in the time of Jesus on earth. It came into being at Pentecost. Its purpose was to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was already in our midst. This message was particularly geared to a love of the poor. We would develop this capacity to love through the power of the Holy Spirit. If present in our lives, this Spirit would change the way we lived. Only those with ‘eyes to see’ would recognize its presence. francis’ radical freedom Pope Francis, through his outreach to the poor and his early symbolic actions, is showing that he has the inner freedom to allow the Holy Spirit space to move. Hopefully, the radical freedom lived by Jesus will again take root in our Church — and encourage all to step out further in faith. n Jim Consedine is a priest of the Diocese of Christchurch. He is editor of The Common Good.
a nuclear weapon-free world? . . . continued from page 21 reef at Mururoa; and he paid tribute to New Zealand for sacrifices it had made to sustain its nuclear-free policy. In the final session, Mexico stole the show when Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho announced that his government was offering to host a follow-up conference to maintain the momentum. Delegates erupted in delighted applause. nz’s response NZ Ambassador Higgie responded to a challenge that the conference risked undermining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. She asked why nuclear disarmament should be promoted only in one forum. “We see no contradiction in promoting nuclear disarmament inside the NPT, and outside it here in Oslo. Indeed, we see our efforts here as very possibly helping us to implement the requirement — as the International Court of Justice told us in 1996 — to conduct, in good faith, negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects. This meeting here in Oslo — in looking beyond the arithmetic of military security to fundamental notions of the survivability of our environment, our economies, and our populations — has served to remind us all that any use of nuclear weapons comes at a cost none of us should be prepared to pay.” To further applause, she welcomed Mexico’s courageous intention to host a follow-up meeting. “New Zealand will wholeheartedly join in all work, in the NPT context as well as in any process following on from this meeting and from Mexico’s, that brings us closer to our goal: the elimination of nuclear weapons.” endorsements of nz ideas Ireland endorsed the New Zealand ambassador’s statement, as did Switzerland. The Iranian ambassador added a telling point: “The boycotting of this conference by the P5 questions
their intention and good faith; they may regret it.” Kate and I agreed. norway’s closing remarks In his closing remarks, Norway’s Foreign Minister was euphoric: “Together … we have reframed the discourse. We are taking it out of traditional fora, creating a supplementary initiative. Now we are twice as strong and effective … we have introduced new vigour, and sense of urgency …” As delegates made their farewells and filed out of the hotel, they were serenaded across the street — not by the usual angry demo of frustrated activists, but by a dancing, colourful throng of young, placard-waving Norwegians thanking them, and encouraging them to stay strong in the fresh phase of the struggle ahead. We wiped joyful tears away as we joined them, having dared to dream that we would see this in our lifetimes. a tipping point We realised we had just been privileged to witness the tipping point, when enough political will had been generated to face down the nuclear weapon states and throw them onto the defensive. By declining to try to defend the indefensible, the P5 had surrendered control of the endgame agenda. We have no illusions about how much harder this will be than banning landmines and cluster bombs. However, our faith in humanity’s ability to stand up for peace and justice has been rekindled. Now, we need the NZ Government to honour the legacy of all those who have helped bring us to this point, and actively support Mexico at the follow-up conference, which we understand will be held by the end of this year. n Robert Green is the retired commander of a British nuclear submarine. He is an anti-nuclear campaigner and author of Security without Nuclear Deterrence. 25 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
where is jesus to be found? The Ascension 12 May - Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:46-53 Kathleen Rushton Proclaimed on the Feast of the Ascension are Luke’s two accounts of the ascension of Jesus: “he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (Lk 24:51) and was “lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Now, if like me, you try to compare the details of these accounts as well as sort out what other parts of the New Testament tell us about Jesus’ Ascension, it is not a little confusing. How easy it is to get caught up in the stuff of scientific history and forget that this section of the Jesus story is about spiritual transformation and empowerment. The unity of Luke-Acts is often hidden because the New Testament editions separate this gospel from its sequel, Acts, by placing John’s gospel between them. Two questions, in this two part story, disturb my tendency to seek Jesus where he will not be found. Remember in Luke’s gospel “the two men in dazzling clothes” chided the women disciples seeking the living One among tombs: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (24:5). Then again in Acts, “two men in white robes” chide the men disciples who are gazing up into
Stephen Broadbent’s sculpture. “Empowerment” spans the River Witham in Lincoln’s City Square, U.K. Completed in 2002, the sculpture takes the form of two aluminium-and-steel human figures reaching to each other across the water. The design is intended to echo the shape of turbine blades, in recognition of Lincoln’s industrial heritage.
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heaven: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up to heaven?” (1:11). So, where is Jesus to be found? “events fulfilled” Both books begin with a short prologue. In the gospel prologue we find the key idea, namely “the events that have been fulfilled among us.” The words “events fulfilled” suggest that those events did not just occur but were the fulfilment of the Scriptures. The “we” is the Christian communities of Luke’s own time removed in time by 40 or 50 years from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. To know about these events, they needed the testimony of eyewitnesses and the preaching of the word. Yet the continuity with the first generation of Christians was such that those second generation Christians who were Luke’s communities, understood those events as having been fulfilled among them. This also applies to all generations of Christians, and to us, today. We, too, move from knowledge to mission. Luke-Acts makes it very clear that the “fulfilment” is still happening in our times. Ponder the final words of Jesus in this gospel: “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (24:46–47). Not only are the Scriptures fulfilled by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus in the story of Luke’s gospel, they are fulfilled in the preaching of repentance in the name of Jesus to all nations. This is the story of the Church, too, as it continues through the books of Acts in Luke’s generation. This is what Acts is all about: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). The mission is described in three phases: “beginning from Jerusalem” (chs1–7), to Judea and Samaria (chs 8–12), and to the ends of the earth (chs 13-28). In this vision of the Church, it is the story of our generation too. And that raises some interesting questions. questions ever new Luke has a strong interest in Gentiles. What does this understanding of Gentiles show? What does this mean for mission today in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond? Luke is the only gospel writer to give a full account of the early Church’s mission into Gentile lands. Jesus is
saviour of all nations (Lk 2:32). ‘All’ or ‘everyone’ is inserted throughout the two texts. Jesus’ genealogy goes back to Adam, the beginning of all humanity (3:38). Jesus speaks positively of Gentiles (4:25-27). A universal ethic is outlined for Jews and Gentiles (6:27–35). Yet, Luke’s understanding of the Gentiles tends to show them as dwelling in darkness awaiting God’s salvation. There is truth here, for we all dwell in shades of darkness. It is also true that Jesus, who in his life time was confined in one land and one culture, by his resurrection transcends time and space. He is made present to all creation as the first fruits of those who die (I Cor 15:20–23). Consequently, the light of Christ must have been already present among the Gentiles before the arrival of those early Christian missionaries. This is, indeed, true of our times. We cannot bring Christ anywhere unless we discover Christ there first. The Vatican II Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, advises those in mission in the Church today, that is, you and I: “Let them be familiar with their national and religious traditions to uncover with gladness and respect those seeds of the Word which lie hidden among them” (#11). Yet again, we are assured that from “ancient times there have existed among diverse peoples a perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human life.” (Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religion, #2) I mentioned “the stuff of scientific history” above. I do not discount that entirely nor do I discount questions of evolutionary science. My growing awareness of the vastness and complexity of time and space increases. What does the mission of the Church mean in terms of science and religious understanding? What do I understand about the Ascension of Jesus when Luke sets it against the background of the ancient three tiered universe: above earth, on earth and under the earth? Was Jesus “carried up into some distant physical heaven”? From what I know now, if Jesus “was carried up,” even travelling at the speed of light to some material place called heaven, he would have not yet, nearly 2,000 years later, have moved beyond our Milky Way galaxy. I return to where I began. The Jesus story is about spiritual transformation and empowerment, and I add, for the mission of the Church in today’s complex, evolving, beautiful, suffering and global world. As T.S. Elliot puts it more elegantly:
Visit us Visit us in breath of wind in endurance of cliffs in glow of kowhai in silence of stars in solitude of moon in eyes of the poor in embrace of a mother in pleasure of friends in faith that does justice.
© Anne Powell
We shall not cease from exploring, And the end of our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. n Kathleen Rushton is a Sister of Mercy working in adult education in the Diocese of Christchurch. 27 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
book and film reviews
a house divided Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. By Katherine Boo Scribe, Melbourne, 2012. Reviewer: Sandra Winton OP
f you fly into Mumbai International Airport, among the five luxurious hotels, along the side of a coconut-tree-lined thoroughfare there is an aluminium fence covered with posters advertising bathroom fittings. ‘Beautiful forever’, the words run, one after another. Behind the Beautiful forevers, if it is still there, lies Annawadi slum. 3000 people squat on airport land, in 335 huts. Here Pulitzer Prize winner, Katherine Boo documented the experience of Annawadi inhabitants for over three years to produce this book. In it we meet the Muslim family of Abdul (maybe 16, maybe 19, who sorts trash), his brother Mirchi, who wants a clean job in a hotel, their mother Zehrunisa, tender, playful and a ferocious haggler; we meet Asha, who is striving to become Annawadi’s first female slumlord and who moves between the slumdwellers, the police and officialdom, negotiating bribes, favours and debts and her teenaged daughter, Manju, whose ambition is to become Annawadi’s first female college graduate; we meet fifteen-year-old Meena who longs for a future free from an arranged marriage and domestic submission, Sunil a twelve-year-old scavenger who wants to eat enough to begin to grow; and many others. In the Indian financial capital, Annawadi, with its sewage lake, foul air, lack of shelter and habitation, is one of many slums. Like Mumbai itself it too is ‘a hive of hope and 28 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
ambition’ as well as a sump of despair and degradation. Before coming to Mumbai, Katherine Boo had spent years reporting from poor communities in the United States. She came to Mumbai’s slums with very important questions: ‘What is the infrastructure of opportunity in this society? Whose capabilities are given wing by the market and a government’s economic and social policy? Whose capabilities are squandered? By what means might that ribby child grow up to be less poor?’ She considers the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty and asks why more of our unequal societies do not implode? She asks herself and her research data how the ethical imagination of young children can turn to indifference and moral deadness. In her child interviewees she finds both hope and desire for life; she documents
the conditions that can sabotage their ‘innate capacity for moral action’ so that they can walk past a dying scavenger on the road, or shrug at a girl who has swallowed poison. We hear about the economic miracle of modern India. We see films like Slumdog Millionaire. Charities show pictures of skeletal children. ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’, gives us a detailed and thoughtful look at some of the realities of the lives of people whose poverty we in New Zealand shrink from imagining. We see into their dreams, their hopes, their compromises, their deadened indifference, their fight not just to survive but to stretch out for their own economic miracle, a tiled floor, a job as a waiter, a life without crime. We see that even this slum offers more than the rural villages that have been left behind where woman are bent double and there is no way out. But this is not a depressing book. It is as gripping as a novel, its characters as engaging, their stories as absorbing. It is a book that documents without judgement yet with moral acuity the impact on the most poor of people of the global and local economic policies that are creating even in New Zealand ever-increasing economic disparity. I could not recommend it more highly. n
Proof of Heaven Eben Alexander
This book will capture you, living up to its excellent reviews. The author, a prominent USA neurosurgeon, scientist and non-believer, had a near-death experience. He scientifically describes his experience, and now firm belief, that God and the soul are real with death but a transition. Index. Appendices. 196pp.
$34.99 +$4 p/pkg
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variations on an old theme Performance Director: Yaron Zilberman Reviewer: Paul Sorrell
usic lies at the heart of this subtle, intelligent film, both in terms of its subject matter and its form, which announces and develops some major themes and plays variations on them. At the end, the ‘piece’ achieves a resolution of sorts, but with a future that still lies open for the ‘players’. Performance follows the intertwined lives of the four members of the Manhattan-based Fugue string quartet — Peter (Christopher Walken), Daniel (Mark Ivanir) and husband-and-wife team Robert and Juliette (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener). To celebrate 25 years of dedicated musicmaking, the group is preparing to perform Beethoven’s challenging Opus 131 for string quartet at
Carnegie Hall. However, disaster strikes in the form of Peter’s recently diagnosed Parkinson’s disease. While the performers’ musical lives are tightly interwoven, as the film develops we discover a network of connections that links each member of the quartet even more closely. Peter’s illness, and the difficulties surrounding finding a replacement for him, is not the only threat to the integrity of the group. Robert’s fling with a young flamenco dancer piques his middle-aged vanity to the extent that he is no longer content to play second violin to Daniel, literally or figuratively. Daniel further threatens the cohesion of the ensemble when he begins an affair with his pupil Alexandra, a sparky and precocious violinist who also happens to be Robert and Juliette’s daughter. For her part, Alexandra feels herself the victim of a childhood sacrificed to her parents’ musical ambitions.
While at least some of these conflicting forces are brought into balance by the end of the film, the real interest in Performance lies in the themes and ideas that are thrown up by the characters’ relationships and offered to the audience to mull over. Perhaps the most important suggestion is that, in creating something together, something bigger than ourselves, we need to leave our egos at the door. Real creativity is a fragile creature. The film shows how years of love and nurturing can be put at risk by jealousy, neglect of personal relationships, dissatisfaction with our own chosen roles and appeals to our vanity and pride. Despite the occasional awkward moment, Performance is a quietly satisfying film that gives us something worthwhile to take home with us and, on that basis alone, must be judged a success. n
29 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
Crosscurrents Jim Elliston gioacchino pecci (1810 – 1903; pope leo XIII, 1878) As a young man Pecci’s organizational talents and strong personality resulted in his being directed to settle various problems, pastoral and civil, by Pope Gregory XVI. He was originally uncertain as to whether he should become a priest. Shortly after ordination Gregory appointed him bishop of Perugia where he was installed in 1846. He required his priests to be pastorally effective, and he personally took various initiatives to better the lot of the poor. He wrote: “On one side there are cries of hopelessness threatening to become acts of desperation; on the other, there is waste that insults the poor … who barely manage to earn enough to feed their families.” He adopted many of von Ketteler’s pastoral practices. (An interesting note: in 1883 he reconstituted the Third Order of St Francis — a lay organization aimed at spreading the simple way of life of St Francis of Assisi). He was elected Pope at 68 with his poor health and age seen as a guarantee of a short papacy — he died 25 years later! He inherited an organization in disarray internally and with poor relationships with various states. This frail old man set about re-invigorating the Church. In contrast to his two immediate predecessors, Gregory XVI (who denounced the ideas of democracy and freedom of conscience), and Pius IX (note the infamous ‘Syllabus of Errors’), Leo XIII foreswore denunciations and instead adopted a very positive approach, initiating a wide-ranging programme aimed at the reform of society, setting out the rights and duties of its members, as well as initiating reforms in philosophical, theological and biblical studies in Catholic institutions. One example: in 1893 his encyclical on the Bible pointed out that the writers 30 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
of Genesis used the contemporary understanding of the universe to teach fundamental truths, but that did not mean this understanding was part of revelation. In other words, literal interpretation of the creation accounts is wrong. As an integral part of this programme he issued the first comprehensive statement on social doctrine, Rerum Novarum, on 17 May 1891. He remarked that the greatest influence on him in issuing the encyclical was the work of von Ketteler. The three major planks were: a) The Church proposes the basic rules of justice and charity that should govern relations between worker and proprietor. Marxist philosophy that rejects private ownership and encourages class war is harmful to the worker as well as the proprietor. b) Workers are entitled to a just wage that enables them to support their families. The Liberal philosophy that relies on unregulated competition, thus forcing workers to accept insufficient wages, is equally harmful. c). Organizations must be set up to protect the rights of workers, and mixed groups of workers and proprietors must work together for their mutual benefit. These are basic rights arising from the ‘Natural Law’, and the State must intervene if anyone tries to impede their formation and work. timely arrival? The associate professor in commercial law at the University of Auckland, Gehan Gunasekara, wrote a Herald article in March on the widespread realization that the ever-increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots is disastrous. He mentioned Latin America, where the neoconservative economic creed has been
rejected with positive results. Also, the recent demand in China that Party officials live modestly. The article was entitled ‘Pope comes at time of fresh thinking’. He mentioned Francis’ conservative stance on sexual morality but added: “… these issues are in reality peripheral to the preoccupations of a great majority of individuals that are mainly concerned with the daily struggle for health care, feeding and educating their children and putting a roof over their heads.” He suggested that Francis has struck a chord (also) with people in the developed world with his declaration that the Church needs to deal with these issues, along with his personal style of modest living. “Pope Francis may prove to have a similar effect on capitalism to that exerted by John Paul II on the downfall of communism.” I can hear Ozanam, von Ketteler, Leo XIII — and yes, Karl Marx — all saying “Amen to that!” communication styles “It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people.” Benedict XVI on the Causes of War, New Year 2013. It is interesting that the first item on the list is growing inequality. Benedict repeats Leo’s warning; its validity is more easily recognizable today. It is also interesting that Francis’ similar comments have had far greater impact. n
death and taxes Peter Norris
ecently I received the bad news that the father of one of our staff members died. He was a good age but I was very sad for the staff member and, like other staff, I thought she should keep trying to contact members of her family but go home to do it. Imagine my surprise to find out some hours later that the father was not dead and was simply in hospital. It was good news for us and the cost was only one bunch of flowers sent from another staff friend. There was a little bit of embarrassment as everyone pointed the finger trying to work out how the bad news originated and spread but the result was good. Our religion can be a little odd. We pray “thy kingdom come” but hope that the full realisation of that is some time away for ourselves and for our friends and their families. We are very understanding and supportive when someone dies but do not want death to call us or our family in the immediate future. I never saw a dead body until I was working in the hospital as a If you know a friend who might enjoy reading — and maybe subscribing to Tui Motu — fill in their details and send it to us at: Freepost 97407 P O Box 6404 Dunedin North DUNEDIN 9059 – and we will send them a free back copy
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night porter during the seminary holidays. Like everyone else I tried to be brave but I also had no emotional involvement as I had a job to do. I had to assist the nurse to take the body to the morgue. When I was in a parish it was similar. I was called to administer the sacraments to those who were dying and one day found a dying person holding my hand. That happened a few times and, while surprising each time, it also seemed to be a time of love. We know that we are all called to death but we hope that it will only happen sometime in the future. We are told that death and taxes are the only two realities we cannot avoid. There are actually a lot more, but I guess death and taxes are what we think of as the bad news realities. We all need taxes to pay for social services for ourselves and for others; and we also need death as we leave behind much and come to know God eternally. Yet we try to avoid both! Sometimes I think we are very bright and other times I think we just grasp reality very lightly. We are not aware of the good around
us held so easily by lovely people. I see these people all the time and wish I was as profound as them. However, like most, I pray “thy kingdom come” with fingers crossed. I hope that I can be as understanding of others as God is of me. I hope that I can accept others’ lack of purpose knowing that God accepts mine. I also hope that sometime in the future I will pray “thy kingdom come” realising that the kingdom is here now but that I am also prepared to step into it more fully. I do not know when that will happen but I know that is the purpose of my life. It is a preparation for me to say those words emphatically, with a little bit of fear, but also with hope. The Lord’s Prayer is one of the loveliest prayers we say or sing at Mass. “Thy kingdom come” is one of the best pieces in it. n Father Peter Norris is the Master of St Margaret’s College on the campus of the University of Otago.
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31 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
a mother’s journal
by Kaaren Mathias
his morning everything felt too hard. Full of steam and disgruntle about the injustices I see every day (if I open my eyes to see them), the disparities of this world and the other one, the iniquity of a mother weighing just 25 kg, like Kamla Malto whom I met in a village just last week, and her daughter, in her twenties, just as wizened and malnourished as she was, I thought about what a bizarre world it is that these two widows can’t even find enough food to eat. And meanwhile the New Zealand Ministry of Health is busting its gut trying to get Kiwis eating less and exercising more. But actually I wasn’t caring about any of that. Instead there I was sitting on the steps with my morning cup of tea and all I really wanted for today was that my life were easier, that I didn’t have to get going and organise four children for school for the day, and didn’t have to tidy and clean up after breakfast, and didn’t have to write a funding proposal for our mental health project that we have already started in hope and without money, and that I didn’t have to untangle the spelling and grammar of various contributors for the health and development magazine I try to edit. Instead, I was just wishing I could curl up and read books for a few
32 Tui Motu InterIslands May 2013
weeks. Let the big bad world unravel a bit more. It’s not like I can make any difference anyway. Cup of tea just sat patiently beside me, letting out an occasional steamy sigh. I finally gathered my disgruntle and hopelessness together enough to pray with very little conviction that I would find enough shreds of grace and strength to do what I needed today. Then I drank up my tea and decided to cancel the morning’s proposal writing, editing etc plans, and instead to go running and walking with my true love who is also my husband. We ran down into the groin of the deep valley behind us, and then staggered panting, back up on to the ridge. We found a new and lithe track which was littered with a quite exuberant riot of red rhodhodendrons. They had completely over-performed this year and we collected a few armfuls of crimson flowers to make rhodhodendron
jam. Stuffing them down into the backpack, we sat on a spur, looked out on the deep valleys and muscular hills, and drank some dark South Indian coffee from the thermos. We didn’t talk about work. Or even kids. Not much anyway. And suddenly the morning was happily gone. Raced home and Jeph collected Jalori from pre-school while I stopped to buy supplies of beans, bananas and grapes. And I was back to being alive and happy with my lot. Wrote that mental health proposal. Made dinner for everyone. Helped the big kids with their homework. Got them into bed. Tidied up the house. Untangled that grammar and spelling and tumbled into bed, the morning’s sifting listless angst gone. The shreds of grace and strength, and abundance of rhodhodendrons had once again supervened. n Kaaren Mathias lives and works in community health and development in North India with her husband Jeph and four children.