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Restoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: A Pathway from Australia to Arizona

by Dave Weiman
from Cooking Together

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly.  What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation?  How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond?  For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions.  This post was written by Dave Weiman, who has been working with others to educate UUs about this issue. – Ed.

At 7:30 pm on December 3, 2009, Joy Murphy Wandin, senior woman of the Wurundjeri People, was the first person to greet the 6,000 plus people who had come together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, with this traditional ‘Welcome to the Land’:

On behalf of the spiritual ancestors and the traditional owners of Melbourne, I invite you to Melbourne in 2009, for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to share in the traditions, culture and spirit of Australia.

I was impressed that special recognition was given to the Peoples who had nurtured the land for thousands of years.   The welcoming practice not just for the opening, occurred at the beginning of almost every event during the Parliament, large or small.  And in fact, at the start of Sunday Service at the local Unitarian Church, the same basic welcoming statement started the service.  It is important to note that the words in these messages of welcome are of and by the Peoples who are native to the land, not from government officials.

At the final Plenary of the Parliament more than a dozen Indigenous Peoples from around the globe, presented a ‘Statement to the World.’  The Statement explained Indigenous cultures and contributions, the negative outcomes of colonization, and the injustices suffered by Indigenous Peoples.   It concluded with seven ‘appeals’.  Of the seven, two became an important focus of my social justice work when I returned home.  One asked for all nations to implement and support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration), and another asked for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery (Doctrine).

From the opening moment of the Parliament to its closing, I was being drawn into a social justice cause about which I had known virtually nothing.  Since the Parliament I’ve been learning more, about the Declaration and the Doctrine, and come to understand why these are so important, not only for Indigenous Peoples, but for all of us.

Religious leaders pressure Australian government on climate change

From the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne News and Views

Twenty-eight religious leaders will converge on Canberra on 2 June to pressure the federal government to act on climate change.  Representatives from many different faiths, acting under the banner of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), will meet with Julia Gillard, Greg Hunt, Andrew Wilkie and around twenty other Members of Parliament.

Bishop George Browning, a member of the delegation, said the time to act is now.  “Our generation has been given humanity’s last chance to avert a climate emergency. Our grandchildren will just have to bear with the results of what we decide to do now,” Bishop Browning said.  Formerly the bishop of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop Browning, who is now the Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said that climate change skeptics were preventing Australia moving in the right direction.  “The naysayers are holding Australia back from taking responsible action with their fear-mongering and misinformation. Not only can we act, we must act.”

Click here to read the full article

For more on the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, please visit their website.

Melbourne to Celebrate One-Year Anniversary of Parliament

One year after the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions was held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the city has changed for the better.  The world’s largest interreligious event brings people together from all over the world, and certainly has a global impact, but nowhere is that impact more noticeable than in the host city itself.

Join the celebration of a newly-invigorated interreligious movement:

“A World of Difference…Just Around the Corner”

Sunday 14 November 2010

Click here for registration information

Click here to download the flier

November 4th, 2010 at 6:23 am

Pope Canonizes First Australian Saint

From AP/Huffington Post

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Australia’s first saint on Sunday, canonizing a 19th-century nun and also declaring five other saints in an open-air Mass attended by tens of thousands.

Chants of “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!” echoed throughout St. Peter’s Square as a raucous crowd of flag-and-balloon-carrying Australians used a traditional sports cheer to celebrate the honor bestowed on their late native, Mary MacKillop. In Sydney, huge images of the nun were projected onto the sandstone pylons of the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Speaking in Latin on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica, Benedict solemnly read out the names of each of the six new saints, declaring each one worthy of veneration in all the Catholic Church. Among them was Brother Andre Bessette, a Canadian brother known as a “miracle worker” and revered by millions of Canadians and Americans for healing thousands of sick who came to him.

“Let us be drawn by these shining examples, let us be guided by their teachings,” Benedict said in his homily, delivered in English, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish to reflect the languages spoken by the church’s newest saints.

A cheer had broken out in the crowd when MacKillop’s name was announced earlier in the Mass, evidence of the significant turnout of Australians celebrating the humble nun who was excommunicated for a few months in part because her religious order exposed a pedophile priest.

Click here to read the entire article.

October 18th, 2010 at 8:54 am

Brumby wins Gandhi Peace Award

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Victorian Premier John Brumby has won the 2010 Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award for helping stage last year’s Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne.

The government contributed $2 million to the forum which brought together Victorians and delegates from around the world to share traditions, cultures and friendships.

“I am very proud to accept the Mahatma Gandhi Award which I see as an award for the Victorian people and their commitment to promoting harmony across our community,” Mr Brumby said.

“Victorians are proud of our diverse multicultural heritage and that’s why our government is proud to support programs, organisations and events that both promote and strengthen our rich multiculturalism.”

He said the government wanted to leave a legacy for promoting community harmony and understanding in Victoria.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Interfaith Youth Movement Down Under

From The Journal of Inter-religious Dialogue

Nivy is a Hindu. She loves Aussie rules football. And her goal is helping others.  When she was growing up in the Middle East, Nivy experienced firsthand how religious identity shaped the way people related to one another.

Recovering in hospital after a serious accident, Nivy’s background as an Indian Hindu all of a sudden became an issue, and had she not also been an Australian citizen it is likely her treatment would have been jeopardized. Now, years on, this experience of prejudice remains with her as a vivid memory. Nivy is a young person in an era of inter-religious conflict, and in understanding just what is at stake she is working to build global interfaith cooperation. She is part of a movement of religiously motivated young people who (although their individual stories are unique) share a common vision.

Nivy is just one of the young leaders helping to build InterAction, a multifaith youth network based here in Australia. InterAction has a mission of fostering mutually enriching relationships and respect for identity by engaging young people in common action for the common good. We are inspired youth from diverse cultural, spiritual & religious backgrounds, working together side-by-side to build a better world. Through collaborative service projects, InterAction links like-minded groups and individuals to make positive contributions to their local communities and humanity as a whole. By doing so, we aim to replace conflict and competition with cultures of co-operation and peace.

We subscribe to the model of action-focused interfaith engagement. Not everyone can be an expert in theology, but each person already is the expert of their own experience. In building inter-religious harmony, the doorway to dialogue is action.  By collaborating on service projects which tackle issues of common concern, we can truly come to recognize one another as allies and friends.  In this way, not only can people of different faiths share the one table, we can each enjoy our different dishes and come away feeling mutually nourished and enriched by the experience.

Click here to read the entire article.

John Pawlikowski Lectures on Jewish-Christian Relations

John PawlikowskiFrom J-Wire

A public lecture by Father (Dr) John Pawlikowski was held at Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) North Sydney Campus last week, on The Christian-Jewish Relationship: Current Theological and Political Challenges.

Fr (Dr) Pawlikowski shared more than 40 years knowledge and experience of the interfaith relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

He specifically discussed the new scholarship and dialogue that delves into the origins of the separation between Judaism and Christianity, the ‘Jewishness’ of Jesus and the new perspectives on the life and work of Paul.

Click here to read the entire article.

Charter for Compassion Recognized at Australian Parliament


Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Danielle Lauren and Senator Ursula Stephens

From J-Wire

Jewish community social activist, Danielle Lauren, organised a historic recognition ceremony for the Charter for Compassion at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday.

The ceremony was the first time that the Charter had been recognised in a Parliament anywhere in the world and included representatives from the Government and Opposition, Indigenous community, diplomats, NGOs, religious and youth leaders. The Canberra Jewish community was represented by Bill Arnold and Rabbi Dan Avital.

The Charter for Compassion is a document and worldwide movement that supports the golden rule “To treat others like you would wish to be treated.” Advocates of the Charter include HH The Dalai Lama and Richard Branson. The Charter is a initiative, inspired by world renowned religious historian, Karen Armstrong and the result of contributions from people from over 100 countries.

Danielle Lauren, the host of the ceremony and Australian Ambassador for the Charter, said “This event was a wonderful opportunity to spread the principle of compassion to our leaders and help make Australia a more compassionate society for all.” Danielle gave a call to action for her campaign to get 100,000 handwritten signatures in Australia to support the Charter.

Click here to read the entire article.

Desmond Cahill Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia

From The Moonee Valley Leader

Professor Desmond Cahill

Professor Desmond Cahill

WORKING for religious moderation rather than sidelining faiths is the best way of “dealing with religious-inspired terrorism”, a Flemington intercultural education expert says.

Prof Desmond Cahill is one of three Moonee Valley residents named in the Queen’s Birthday honours list, all receiving Medals of the Order of Australia (OAMs).

Prof Cahill, who has led intercultural studies at RMIT University in the CBD since 1993, was awarded “for service to intercultural education and to the interfaith movement”.

He said he was a “little bit surprised, (given) there are many deserving people who don’t receive such an award”.

The former Catholic priest organised the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne last December, attended by about 6500 delegates.

Prof Cahill, 64, said his passion for intercultural education started when he worked as a priest in the northern and western suburbs for six years in the 1970s.

He was appointed to RMIT in 1979 to develop multicultural studies so people were trained to work with ethnic communities including migrants and refugees.

Prof Cahill also developed training to teach English as a second language and languages other than English in schools.

He said fostering intercultural relationships was vital.

Read the full article here.

Post Parliament Gala with Yusuf Islam