Vol 38 No 2
FUNDAMENTALISM AND THE WIGGLES
NEW EVANGELISATION AND LEARNING FROM OTHERS
ON THE RISE AGAIN: NEO-FUNDAMENTALISM IN AUSTRALIAN CATHOLICISM (PART
THE THREAT OF FUNDAMENTALISM? SOME CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM PERSPECTIVES
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE: NEW PARADIGMS FOR HEALING
Mark Raper SJ
TO BUILD PEACE AND BRING HOPE
Bob Irwin MSC
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS
build peace and bring hope
MARK RAPER SJ
I HAVE CHOSEN to speak about the worldwide movement of refugees today,
about what I believe are the causes of this phenomenon, how it impacts
on our society, and what we can do in response. I will seek to reflect
on my experiences of living and working with refugees for over 20 years.
Refugees are not new. Even the story of Adam and Eve speaks of their exile.
For as long as intolerance and oppression have been part of human history,
there have been refugees. The numbers of people uprooted today, and the
extent of human suffering may not be proportionately greater than at other
times in history. The numbers displaced by the Second World War, for example,
were in the tens of millions. But with the spread of modernity and its
means of communication to every corner of the globe, not only have the
total numbers risen, but we are also more aware of them. Contemporary
media makes their plight, the size, frequency, speed and complexity of
the refugee crises, immediate to us all. The arrival of a small number
on our shores, not in itself a new phenomenon, is now a matter of hyperbolic
rhetoric in Australia and in most Western societies.
Refugees are everywhere, and so are stories about them. Refugees today
move in new directions, and can arrive anywhere, although it is often
overlooked that 90% of them remain in the poorest countries. Rather than
searching for ways to protect the rights of asylum seekers, states present
themselves as overwhelmed by a crisis. But instead of seeking solutions,
they try by all means either to ignore the problem or to block the movements.
Yet harsh legislation, ostensibly designed to protect states against refugees
and migrants, only serves to strengthen illegal operations that bring
desperate people across borders. The real refugee crisis is that the root
causes are again overlooked, and that the international set of agreements
designed to offer protection to refugees is now being dismantled, piece
by piece, by the states that signed them into force.
A Challenge For Each of Us
My lecture tonight is entitled, To build peace and to bring hope.
It is a Lenten lecture. During Lent, we prepare to relive the Paschal
Mystery, which sheds the light of hope upon the whole of our existence,
even its most complex and painful aspects, wrote the Pope in his
message for Lent 2004.1 And in his peace message last January 1st, he
spoke of love,
the deepest hope of every human heart,
as the foundation of authentic and lasting peace.2 To be a refugee is
a complex and painful human experience. If we will hear them, the refugees
will teach us what it is to bring hope, and what are the ways to build
Building Peace, Bringing Hope is also the theme for Caritas
Australias Project Compassion appeal, which begins today and runs
throughout Lent. Caritas Australia is the finest and most effective non-government
organisation (NGO) of its kind in Australia. It deserves and needs your
support. Caritas is grass roots, it goes to the root causes of poverty,
disadvantage and conflict and it is inspired by compassion. The Caritas
international federation comprises 154 national relief, development and
social work agencies present in 198 countries and territories throughout
the world. This federation commands more personnel, a greater budget,
and a broader public involvement than any agency of the United Nations
(UN), indeed of several UN agencies together. Because of its network of
local partners, Caritas is close to people in need, it responds quickly
to changing conditions and it stays when other agencies leave. For example,
Caritas Iraq, supported by Caritas Australia, continues to work with the
Iraqi people despite the exodus of other NGOs and UN bodies.
How is it that so much resources and energy are spent, by individuals
and governments, in order to avoid what we fear, yet so little is spent
on pursuing what we love, respect or long for? In order to build peace
and to bring hope, we are invited to follow our hearts rather than to
surrender to our fears.
If you want peace, work for justice, said Pope Paul VI. But
his advice is contrary to the logic of some other world leaders. In response
to threat facing his country, the President of the worlds most powerful
state could only promise to lead the world into a war that will not end,
against an enemy that is not clear. The Iraq war revealed the tragic failure
of international diplomacy. It showed that a nation may be powerful to
destroy, but it takes a totally different type of power to build.
Project Compassions theme, Building Peace, Bringing Hope,
takes up the gospel call, Do not be afraid in a world increasingly
dominated by fear and insecurity. Fear is dominant in the formulation
of both international and domestic policies today. The logic of fear leads
to anxiety, isolation, suspicion, inaction, violence. By contrast the
way of the gospel speaks to our desires. Do not be afraid
is a way of releasing dreams and desires of peace and hope. The logic
of desires leads to confidence, trust, reconciliation.
Hope is different from optimism. Hope arises from lived experiences of
suffering. Imagine the will, the sustained desire, the strength of character,
needed to keep a refugees hope alive, not only in escaping persecution,
but in surviving ongoing detention, isolation and vilification.
The Geography of Forced Displacement
Through some stories and some pictures, I invite you into the refugee
experience, and through that experience to another way of viewing our
world. Not all refugee stories have happy outcomes, in fact far from it.
Sometimes we experience only our powerlessness. Yet we can learn from
all of the stories.
Gabriel, a six-foot-six Dinka, had arrived in Thailand after a journey
that, for his people, rivalled Marco Polos. Travelling by foot to
escape the fighting which had begun in 1983 in his home in Southern Sudan,
he had crossed into Egypt and on to Iran to study, but instead was drafted
to be a porter in the Iran-Iraq war. Escaping, he failed to get passage
westwards to Europe and so, heading east towards Australia, was stopped
in Singapore and diverted to Thailand. There I found him, culturally disoriented,
alone and desperate. He visited frequently, and with an officer from the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), we searched everywhere
for a country to take him. Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Sweden,
none would even interview him. Finally he was offered three choices, a
trip home to the Sudan, or Kenya, or Liberia. In desperation he accepted
Liberia and departed in 1987. The women in our office gave him the biggest
shirt they could find in the shops. Several times he wrote to me, his
words dictated to a Scottish Salesian priest. A few years later I was
in my new position in Rome. Deeply moved by the suffering of the Liberian
people, I went in 1992 to war-ravaged Monrovia to see what could be done.
While there I hunted for Gabriel. Visiting the Salesians, I asked if they
had known him. Sure enough, they pointed me to a Scot, the one who had
written Gabriels letters. He told me how Gabriel had died, mistaken
for a Mandingo, waving his long arms and showing his refugee card, trying
to explain to a drugged, over-armed Krahn follower of Charles Taylor,
that he was under the protection of the United Nations. I
wept for Gabriel and the many victims of that senseless never ending war.
Perhaps there is no moral to draw from the story of Gabriel who had traversed,
mostly on foot, the geography of our world of conflict and refugees: escaping
the Sudan war he was caught in a Middle Eastern one, blocked when trying
asylum routes west, east, south and north, caught in the eddy of the Indochinese
refugee tide, finally a target in someone elses war.
Every continent and every region of the world is affected by forced displacement
of people. Over the past 25 years almost every country in Africa, for
example, has either produced or received refugees. Generations of people
in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have known no other life than a refugee
camp. Denied education, children lose their hope in the future. Adults
lose their roles, their skills and their dignity. Communities become dependent
and cultures are atrophied. Lost generations linger in legal, social and
political limbo, often ignored by the international community. When not
ignored, the lives of refugees risk distortion in the media.
The history of refugees over these past 25 years is marked at mid-point
by the decisive events of 1989, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the
end of the Cold War. In the eighties and before, those who fled communist
regimes received most attention. Almost two million Indochinese, for example,
were resettled in over 30 countries; among them many came to Australia.
In 1990, a moment in time when contemporary world history changed dramatically,
I was moved to Rome. During the 1990s the agency that I was directing
was engaged deeply with an immense range of peoples in crisis. Of course
we continued our work with the Cambodians, Burmese, Tamils from Sri Lanka,
Afghans and the Bhutanese in Nepal. But a lot of my time was spent in
Africa. In the Horn of Africa, I worked with the Eritreans and Tigrayans,
and when the fortunes of war changed, with the Amharic speaking Ethiopians;
also with Somalis and with the Sudanese who are displaced into Chad, Congo,
Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Ethiopia because of a conflict over pasture land,
the waters of the Nile, oil and Shariah law. We worked with the Mozambicans
who were in Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and with Angolans,
with Liberians, with Congolese, Rwandans and Burundis.
In Latin America our engagements were with El Salvador, but after the
peace agreement and their return home, we turned our efforts to the Guatemalans
in Mexico, then to the Colombians, and the Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
Of course the Balkans and the terrible conflict in Bosnia claimed our
attention. Our team was in Sarajevo throughout the conflict of the nineties,
but also in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Croatia.
Through all this time in the United States and in Europe, as here in Australia,
the latest conflicts were reflected in the faces and identities of the
latest arrivals. The universal geography of displacement finds its mirror
in the immigration and detention centres of every city in the world that
has an international airport.
Understanding the Causes of Displacement
Why do refugees leave home? In classic migration theory, three sets of
factors influence human movement: Push, Pull and Networks. Multiple factors
are at play when a person chooses to leave home. Studies have revealed
that the top ten reasons for asylum seekers coming to Australia are push
factors.3 That is, they were forced to leave.
But before examining or seeking global explanations, let me try to paint
the scenario of one conflict that created mass displacement of people.
In a few weeks, in Holy Week to be precise, we will commemorate 10 years
since the Rwandan genocide began. It began in early April with the killing
of President Habyarimana, and then with the assassination of a group of
people at Centre Christus, the Jesuit retreat centre in Kigali, on 6th
April 1994, among them three Jesuits, one of them the director of the
local JRS program. The world was shocked by the genocide that raged, taking
over 800,000 lives in a few months, but it was also paralysed. It was
portrayed as ethnic conflict, as if that truth was also an answer or an
Prising open the layers of Rwandan society, one can find some factors
that help us, if not to accept, at least to begin to understand. Rwandas
population, three million in the sixties, had risen to almost eight million
in 1994 and its density was among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The
new experience of nationalism in Africa rigidified the national borders
and made the natural nomadism of previous centuries impossible. By the
mid eighties the family farming plots had been divided up as much as seemed
possible, leaving second, third and fourth sons without an income and
without a future. At about this point in time the international market
for Rwandas principle commodity, coffee, collapsed to a half of
its former value. Another factor was the growing scourge of HIV/AIDS which
left many young people without fathers and the direction of their parents.
Since independence in the sixties, the Belgians had intensified their
input into education for the Hutu population, therefore many boys and,
for Africa, a high proportion of girls, had the opportunity for secondary
school education. So there was a significant population of young people
whose hopes and expectations had been raised by their schooling, but who
were now uprooted; instead they were left landless, jobless and futureless.
At that time the President of the country was a Hutu, but under intense
international pressure, he was about to sign into law the Arusha Agreement
to allow a more democratic process in the country, with the consequent
risk that he would lose power. In the attacks of April 1994 that precipitated
the genocide, extremist Hutus first targeted moderate Hutus and any other
moderate figure, whatever their ethnicity. Then, seeking by all means
to retain power, they exploited this discontented mass of young people,
using radio stations to send them to the hills with a poisoned message
of ethnic hatred. Ethnicity and discontent, bred from poverty, were exploited
by individuals for corrupt reasons.
It is not power that corrupts, but fear, Aung San Suu Kyi4
tells us in a comment learned from her own experience. Fear of losing
power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts
those who are subject to it.
Could the international community have done something to stop the Rwanda
genocide? It takes an agency like Caritas, which is on the ground in all
these places to alert us to such situations. Or it takes a university,
which specialises in studying society and human problems. But could powerful
nations have done something? General Dallaire, the Canadian who commanded
the tiny UN peace keeping force on the ground in Kigali at that time,
believes if his mandate was changed, he could have intervened early. But
remember, April 1994 was but a few months after the Black Hawk Down incident,
when 15 US servicemen had been dragged through the streets of Mogadishu,
Somalia, in humiliating view of the CNN cameras. Immediately the US began
to withdraw. Their withdrawal, completed in March 1994, days before the
Rwandan genocide began, was accompanied by US horror at humanitarian intervention
and Presidential commitments not to send US troops abroad again in an
international force unless they were under direct US command.
This Rwandan vignette shows the complexity of one situation, where there
has been remarkable recovery and healing. Yet, without wishing to depress
you, it is important to indicate that the countries around Rwanda remain
in crisis: Uganda to the north, where about one million people are internally
displaced; Congo to the west where, according to a longitudinal study
by International Rescue Committee, some three million people have died
over the past ten years because of conflict or conflict-induced disease
and starvation. In Burundi to the south, hundreds of thousands remain
internally displaced, and similar numbers are refugees in Tanzania. Three
hundred thousand people of Burundi have died in conflict since 1993, including
a few weeks ago, the Apostolic Nuncio, the Popes ambassador in Burundi.
To Respond out of Hope or Fear?
James Wolfensohn, who heads the World Bank, was interviewed recently in
preparation for a visit to Australia.5 If a Martian were to land here,
he said, it would report home that this planet is crazy. A minority on
the planet live for today and do not see the majority of poor. The developed
countries of the world spend immense amounts on arms but only a fraction
on aid. The poverty and despair of many of the 5 billion people in the
developing world only help fuel terrorism and extremism.
I personally feel the world is out of balance, he is quoted
as saying. The way the world is dealing with problems of poverty
and peace seem to be disconnected. Military spending worldwide is
now probably $US1000 billion ($1315 billion), and spending on subsidies
or tariffs to protect farmers in the developed world is about $US300 billion.
In comparison, wealthy countries offer no more than $US50-$US60 billion
in aid to developing countries while blocking most of their agricultural
exportsone of the few opportunities these countries have to haul
themselves out of poverty.
There are 5 billion people in the developing world, 3 billion earning
under $US2 a day, and 1.2 billion earning under $1 a day
If you cant
give them hope, which comes from getting a job or doing something productive,
giving them their self-respect, these people become the basis on which
terrorists or renegades or advocacy groups can flourish. Its an
essentially unstable situation
If you cannot deal with the question
of hope, there is no way that with military expenditure you can have peace.
I think you could spend $US2 trillion on military expenditure, but if
you do nothing about poverty and development youre not going to
Asked about Australias treatment of boatpeople, Wolfensohn remarked,
I would have thought that if Australia has an issue now, that 30
years from now it (will have) a bigger issue to face
strategy for Australia and for all the developed countries in the world
is going to be critical.7
I am convinced that the underlying causes of the forced displacement of
people today are found in the imbalance in the distribution of the worlds
resources and the consequent conflicts that spring from this imbalance.
The building blocks to peace will be found in addressing these causes.
Australian immigration advocate, Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki wrote recently:
Basically, the challenge to Australia will be how to respond to
massive gaps in world income, resulting in economic pressure that forces
migration out of poor areas within nation states and in international
migration movements.8 He goes on to plead: There will be no
scope for a Pacific Solution II and no adequate resources for the infamous
use of naval force in Operation Relex. The seeking of refuge will not
only be a basic matter of international peace and security, it will also
be a massive challenge and call for leadership at all levels of society.
Just last week, Cardinal Murphy-OConnor also addressed this point
in a summit on globalisation in Britain. He said poverty is as big a scourge
as terrorism. He claimed that he does not want to belittle the truth that
terrorism is more dangerous today than it has ever been. But he questioned
whether blaming failed states for allowing terrorism to flourish
was adequate. States fail, he says, when they are incapable
of lifting people out of poverty, or when they pay insufficient heed to
the importance of ensuring that wealth is adequately distributed so that
the whole of the population can flourish; or, indeed, when they fail to
take seriously the obligation to ensure that wealth is not created for
the few and at the expense of many. He concludes his address in
a stirring way:
Our greatest challenge at the beginning of the 21st century is
poverty. Our greatest debt is the debt to our brothers and sisters in
the poorest parts of the world. Our greatest hope is our common humanity
and solidarity. And our greatest strength is our commitment to work together.
I would like to think we can all take that message back to our communities,
our institutions and our Governments
If, as Cardinal Murphy OConnor claims, the greatest threat to world
today is poverty not terrorism, why do we not have a war on poverty rather
than war on terror?
The Polish sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman has written yet another stimulating
book reflecting on modern society. He goes further in his analysis than
simply naming poverty as a cause, he examines the inequity that modernity
requires. His book is called Wasted Lives, Modernity and its Outcasts,9
in which he examines the production of superfluous populations
of migrants, refugees and other outcasts, the inevitable outcome of modernisation.
Formerly, he claims, the large parts of the world that were wholly or
partly unaffected by modernisation were able to absorb the excess of population
of developed countries. Global solutions were sought, and temporarily
found, to local problems. Convicts and unemployed were sent to Australia,
and the Americas, for example, with disastrous consequences for the indigenous
societies. Now, as modernisation reaches every corner of the globe, this
redundant population is produced everywhere, and all locations
have to bear the consequences of the triumph of modernity. Now we have
to seek local solutions to globally produced problems. As a result of
the spread of modernity, growing numbers of human beings are deprived
of adequate means of survival and the planet appears to be running out
of places to put them. Hence the new anxieties about immigrants and the
growing role of diffuse security fears in the political agenda.
Bauman also comments on how the forces of globalisation strip governments
of their sovereign prerogatives. People see the local store, the local
bank and post office disappear from their neighbourhood, even from the
control of the national economy. When the real culprit may be the micro
chip, governments can attempt to demonstrate that they are asserting their
sovereignty by flexing their muscles and firing salvos at selected targets,
such as petty crime and asylum seekers.
Why does our government keep children locked away in detention centres
and on remote Pacific islands? It now claims that this punishment of a
few will save others, that it will deter them from seeking to come to
this country. It may. It may work for a few more months. But in no way
does this approach address the fundamental problems that confront our
world. It is an egregious distraction from the real problems and it is
a miserable exploitation of people as means to an end.
At Christmas I was startled to receive a letter from Senator Amanda Vanstone
since an organisation of which I am one of many patrons, A Just Australia,
sought to find a resolution to the hunger strike of the people on Nauru.
She wrote to me: I ask you to imagine how you would feel if one
of the strikers was a loved one of yours.
Persuading them to end their dangerous course of action would have to
be the first priority. I replied to her: I am heartened that
you would ask me to imagine how I might feel if one of the strikers were
a loved one of mine. Could I urge upon you the same test as you now take
up this demanding portfolio of immigration. Given that the majority of
boatpeople who have arrived in Australian waters in recent years have
been proved to be refugees, should we not design policies which take as
their starting point your imagination test?
Indeed it is possible. John Menadue, former head of the Department of
Immigration, wrote: The most meaningful job of my life was as Head
of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs
.I knew that
I was part of nation-building. I also learned, at that time, that it is
possible to manage a humanitarian program for 100,000 Indo-
Chinese refugees who came to Australia, while at the same time protecting
We make progress, said Meister Eckhart, the 13th century German
Dominican mystic, by stopping. It is good to stop and consider
just how we can go forward. In the mid-sixties, a prophetic Latin American,
Helder Camara, made this appeal on the floor of the Second Vatican Council:
Shall we really spend our whole time on discussing internal problems of
the Church while two thirds of the world population are starving to death?
What is our message in view of the question of underdevelopment? Will
the Council express its concern for the great problems of mankind? Is
the shortage of priests Latin Americas biggest problem? No! The
biggest problem is underdevelopment.
The Councils response, calling the Church not just to look inwards
at itself, but to be of service to the world, was also prophetic and it
is still valid:
The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people of this
age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are
the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ.
Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.11
Out of that impulse many organisations were begun, among them our
own Australian Caritas, which is indeed now 40 years old.
That Council was not a dress rehearsal. Life is not a dress rehearsal.
But Lent gives us time to reflect. And you students at university have
the opportunity to test values, to enquire into what is right, to acquire
discipline in your thinking, and to learn how to build peace and to bring
Each of us carries the responsibility of upholding the principles of justice
and common decencyit falls on
It is the
cumulative effect of their sustained effort and steady endurance which
will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into
one where legal rules exist to promote our desire for harmony and justice.12
Mark Raper is the Provincial of the Australian
and New Zealand Province of the Jesuits. Previously he was International
Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), based in Rome. He is on
the Board of the Refugee Council of Australia.
3 Kerry Murphy, Refugees in Australia: Unwanted Strangers? Jesuit
Refugee Service Australia, Occasional Paper No 3, September 2002.
4 Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear and Other Writings, Penguin
Books, London, 1991.
5 No peace without hope, Roy Eccleston, The Australian,
February 4, 2004.
8 Jerzy Zubrzycki: Lets revisit Calwell ideal The
Australian, January 13, 2004.
9 Zygmunt Bauman, Wasted Lives Modernity and its Outcasts,
Polity, Cambridge, 2004
10 John Menadue Australian Multiculturalism: Successes, Problems
and Risks in Leonie Kramer (ed), The Multicultural Experiment:
Immigrants, Refugees and National Identity, Macleay Press, Sydney,
11 Vatican Council II, The Church in the Modern World, par. 1.
12 Aung San Suu Kyi, op.cit., p.182.
This is the text of the Lenten Lecture delivered at the Leone Ryan
Auditorium of Australian Catholic University, North Sydney on Ash Wednesday,
February 25, 2004, revised for Compass and reprinted with permission.
The original text of the lecture is to be found on the ACU website, http://www.acu.ed.au/forms/mediastore/lenten_lecture_2004_mark_raper.pdf.