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Social Justice Statement

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 Contents - Dec 2003AD2000 December 2003 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: The challenge of Christmas - Peter Westmore
John Paul II's 25th anniversary: the impact of his teachings - Cardinal George Pell
News: The Church Around the World
INTERVIEW: New Melbourne and Sydney Religious Education texts - Msgr Peter Elliott
VOCATIONS: Melbourne's 'Hearts on Fire' vocations congress a success - Fr Paul Stuart
EVENTS: Adore 2004: a Eucharistic Congress for youth
BOOKS: DANIEL MANNIX : Wit and Wisdom - new edition - Michael Gilchrist
Social Justice Statement 2003: a response from Bishop Saunders
Letters: Social Justice Statement - Michael Barr
Letters: Centrality of tabernacle - Marie Cassey
Letters: Common sense - Michael Barry
Letters: Inspiring article - Thomas Jones
Poetry: Ex Maria Virgine - Delia Craig
Letters: Voice of the Faithful - St Michael's Group
Letters: Heresies - John K. Hannon
Letters: Unwarranted school closure - Maurice McGrath
Letters: Men at church - Rosanne Turne
Letters: Perth homeschooling conference - Lorraine Haydon
Books: Confirmed in the Faith, by Dora Nash - Joanna Bogle (reviewer)
Books: Adventures in Orthodoxy, by Dwight Longenecker - Richard Egan (reviewer)
Books: Celibacy in the Early Church, by Stefan Heid - Fr Peter Murphy (reviewer)
Books: You Are Peter, by Olivier Clément - Peter Westmore (reviewer)
Books: Socrates meets Machiavelli, Socrates meets Marx, by Peter Kreeft - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: AD Books - Top Ten Sellers in 2003
Books: AD Books - A happy and a holy Christmas!
Reflection: 'Jesus Christ: the door of our salvation' : the meaning of Christmas - Pope John Paul II

While agreeing with the thrust of Richard Egan's article, "Social Justice Statements: in whose name should they be published?" (November AD2000), there are two points with which I must reluctantly take issue.

1. Mr Egan cites the Statement's claim (made in reference to Australia's history of race relations), that "in many parts of Australia there were massacres and incidents of a kind that are more common in civil war than in peace". He takes issue with these words, arguing that "the extent, nature and causes or these 'incidents' are presently the subject of a major debate between historians."

This is technically true, but tendentious. The academic debate is over genocidal intent, the dimensions of particular atrocities and massacres, whether or not Aborigines were waging a war of resistance against white settlement, and the honesty and competence of some leading historians.

It seems to me that the Statement has carefully and reasonably sidestepped this debate and used words with which both sides of the academic divide could agree. I believe that even Keith Windschuttle would agree that the Black Line in Tasmania and the activities of the Queensland Native Mounted Police are phenomena reminiscent of a civil war rather than a peaceful settlement.

2. In disputing the Statement's unsustainable claim that there is no connection at all between Islam and terrorism, Mr Egan goes to the other extreme, arguing that the roots of Islamic terrorism are found in the Quran and the life of Mohammad. This assessment is as misleading and tendentious as the statement he is criticising.

It is unfortunately true that the Quran, the Sunna and the history of the Muslim umma contain elements that can be construed as endorsing the use of force against unbelievers, but it is unfair to single out Islam for this fault. The Bible contains passages that can be read in a similar way and the history of the Catholic Church is vulnerable to similar criticism.

Violence against unbelievers is a corruption of both the Muslim and the Christian faiths, and is rejected by the overwhelming majority of both creeds. Only when religion is linked to ethnic, economic and political issues does it find itself being drafted into the service of violence - and this applies to all religions, not just Islam.

AD2000 is performing an invaluable service as a defender of religious orthodoxy. Please do not make yourself vulnerable to criticism by engaging in thoughtless reaction.

The University of Queensland
Brisbane, Qld

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 11 (December 2003 - January 2004), p. 13

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