STATEMENT FROM CONFERENCE PRESIDENT ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE

Australia is facing an unprecedented calamity as fire engulfs the land in many places. We have all seen the apocalyptic images, even if we are not in the areas most affected. Lives have been lost, homes and towns have been destroyed, smoke has shrouded large swathes of our country.

And there is no end in sight to the horror which confronts us with our powerlessness before the devastating force of nature.

The efforts of firefighters have been heroic. The resilience of the communities affected has been extraordinary. This has been Australia at its best, and we all stand with those who have been most stricken and with those who are putting their lives on the line to fight the fires.

But we need more than words. Expressions of solidarity are important, but they are not enough.

The bishops are aware of the huge amount being done around the nation, led by governments and first responders. Many local faith communities, including Catholic parishes and organisations, as well as ecumenical and inter-religious coalitions, are also making a big contribution.

While the bishops typically respond to challenges at a parish or diocesan level, the scale of this crisis requires a national response from the whole Church to complement and coordinate what is happening locally.

From the Bishops Conference, that national response includes:

  • The facilitation of a national network connecting people affected by the bushfires with people who can help with tasks such as preparing meals, clearing properties, rebuilding communities, as well as pastoral and counselling support.
  • The distribution of special prayers and other resources for use in parishes, families and other Catholic communities.
  • Collaboration with key national agencies like Catholic Health Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia, the National Catholic Education Commission and the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) to ensure as effective a response as possible from the wider Catholic community.
  • Cooperating with Catholic Religious Australia and religious institutes and their ministries.
  • Parishes across the country taking up a special collection at Masses on the Australia Day weekend, with all funds to be donated to Vinnies’ bushfire appeal.

Vinnies is responding in all affected states and territories. Its network of local conferences and support services has seen them rapidly respond throughout the nation as the fire crisis has spread.

As well as donations at Masses on Australia Day weekend, people are encouraged to support the immediate response and the ongoing work of Vinnies in your state or throughout bushfire-affected communities by donating here.

Our experts on the ground – from agencies like Vinnies, CatholicCare and CentaCare, in parishes and other Catholic communities, including Catholic hospitals and aged care providers – know this will be a long-term process to help people and whole towns rebuild.

With broad and deep roots across the nation, the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery.

Facing this exceptional crisis, we renew our call for insistent prayer for those stricken by drought and fire, for those who have lost their lives in the fires and their families, for rain to quench the parched land and extinguish the fires, and for urgent action to care for our common home in order to prevent such calamities in the future.

A genuinely Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action.

Back to List


More News


17.12.2021

Have your say on religious freedom, Catholics urged

Have your say on religious freedom, Catholics urged Catholics are being encouraged to participate in a nationwide survey on religious discrimination legislation currently before the Australian Parliament and speak up in favour of religious freedom. Last month,...

Read Full Article
4.08.2021

Safeguarding Pastoral Letter

Pastoral Letter to Catholic Parishes and Agencies re. Safeguarding practices The events of last week involving the arrest of the Principal from St Joseph’s Catholic School Mundingburra have shocked the entire community.  I too was deeply upset and s...

Read Full Article
13.11.2020

Bishop Tim writes to congratulate Queensland Members of Parliament

Catholic Bishop writes to congratulate Queensland Members of Parliament With the Queensland Electoral Commission declaring all Queensland Parliamentary seats within the Townsville Diocese recently, Catholic Bishop of Townsville, Most Rev Tim Harris has written...

Read Full Article
22.10.2020

Bishop draws further attention to those made vulnerable by VAD

Bishop draws further attention to those made vulnerable by VAD  Bishop Tim Harris believes the concerns many indigenous people hold over Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) have been overlooked and underestimated and should further delay its legislation. Speak...

Read Full Article
7.09.2020

Catholic bishops call for new solidarity in election statement

Catholic bishops call for new solidarity in election statement Queensland’s Catholic bishops believe the state must discover “a new kind of solidarity” to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and to find a way beyond the pandemic.  The bish...

Read Full Article
21.08.2020

Catholic leaders publish report on Church governance

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have today published an “important and substantial” document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management in Australia. The review was recommended by the ...

Read Full Article
19.05.2020

A word of encouragement to the Catholic cPeople of Australia from the Bishops of Australia

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA FROM THE BISHOPS OF AUSTRALIA Dear brothers and sisters, Grace and peace to you in these Easter days. We write to you from a plenary meeting of the Bishops Conference which is like no other...

Read Full Article
7.04.2020

First Assembly of Plenary Council postponed

FIRST ASSEMBLY OF PLENARY COUNCIL POSTPONED In response to the dramatic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops of Australia have made the “difficult, but necessary” decision to postpone the first assembly of the Plenary Council. Chang...

Read Full Article
More Links in this section