A manifesto for a new earth and new humanity: Laudato Si’ – On Care of Our Common Home

2015 - Volume 18 Number 1

Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si’, subtitled ‘On Care for Our Common Home’ underscores its main message: that we share a small interconnected planet which can only become a reality in ‘relationship’ with all creation, people and the Creator.

This relationship calls all to a change or conversion of heart - both individual and communal. The Pope is making a challenging call to all people who seek justice and integrity of creation- not just people of faith.

There is a call to make a space that allows dialogue and engagement to occur. There is a call to inclusion. An exclusion derived from a politics dictated more by special interests and powerful elites has resulted in our most vulnerable sisters and brothers being marginalised.

Clearly here is a response to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

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Roma People - stigmatised, discriminated against and still no homeland

2014 - Volume 17 Number 1

Roma people have faced stigmatisation, discrimination and marginalisation for centuries in Europe - enduring wars, a lack of cultural understanding, prejudice and hardship. 

With over 500,000 killed by the Nazis, they remain forgotten victims of 20th century genocides, where as survivors they were refused assistance and compensation. 

And yet exclusion, prejudice and poverty have continued. Average life expectancy in Europe is 10 to 15 years less than for other Europeans. Roma communities occupy the lowest rung of the economic ladder of European residents with over 75% living below the poverty line.

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Majuro Declaration

2013 - Volume 16 Number 5

The coral atolls and other low-lying islands that dot the Pacific Ocean are just a few meters above sea-level. These islands will experience a higher sea level rise than other parts of the world and Pacific peoples are already exposed to the adverse effects of climate change, something that is not of their own doing.  Pacific Island nations cannot afford to wait any longer; that is a luxury belonging to developed nations.  They are compelled to attend to their very survival. 

The plight of Pacific peoples was given a strong shake-up on the fifth of September this year by Pacific Island Leaders gathered at the 45th Pacific Islands Forum representing fourteen South Pacific Islands spread throughout a vast area of 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. 

In Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, Forum members, together with Australia and New Zealand, signed the “Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership.” The significance of the document lies precisely in the firm political leadership of the Pacific Islands. Now, stepping up to even greater leadership, they “commit to being Climate Leaders.” Because “to lead is to act” they make a compelling case for others to follow their lead. 

Tired of waiting for others to “go first,” the Pacific’s plucky new approach recognises that developed countries have other agendas, but at the same time “if the Pacific Islands disappear… it will be too late for everyone else.” This echoes the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Sanctions

2013 - Volume 16 Number 4

Sanctions are not an alternative to war. They seem invisible, but their effects are highly visible. Deliberately crippling a nation’s economy is nothing less than war. With the imposition of sanctions ordinary Iranians are increasingly caught in the crosshairs.

Sanctions actually lead to increased repression and corruption as well as sow the seeds of further alienation between the people of Iran and the United States. Australia joined with the United States in imposing sanctions against Iran with the aim of preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

It is not true that sanctions are ‘targeted.’ The true nature of so-called ‘targeted’ sanctions in Iran was revealed before the escalation of sanctions. U.S. and European Union sanctions ‘seriously endangered the lives of tens of thousands of patients, particularly children, suffering from special diseases.’

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Climate Justice

2013 - Volume 16 Number 3

To our North and East of Australia lie the Pacific Islands, a vast region that is at the forefront of human induced climate change.

Within this collection of archipelagos and atolls lie Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), whose people have seen the quality of their lives deteriorate from the impact of rising sea temperatures and tides. Human induced climate change is the cause, and is exacerbating existing human development issues that face the atolls.

That the world needs to reduce its emissions can no longer be in doubt if these island nations are to remain intact, both as a collection of land and as cultural groups, by the end of the century.

Australia, as the highest per capita greenhouse gas emitter in the world and their neighbour, can and must do more to lead the way in reducing emissions.

At our current rate, we are likely to see a rise in sea levels of 0.6 metres and 4 degrees in temperature by 2100.  This is a fearful prospect for our low lying neighbours.

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