Knights of Southern Cross working with Freemasons
After 80 years of mutual suspicion between Catholics and Freemasons, the Knights of the Southern Cross will join Melbourne's Freemasons in their Dallas Brooks Hall home to "seal an unlikely bond".
The Herald-Sun reports that it will be the first time anywhere in the world that the Pope's flag has been carried into a Masonic assembly.
It says the "thawing in relations between the 'Grippers' (Masons) and the 'Micks' (Catholics)" has come because of a successful alliance to help the reconstruction of East Timor.
The Working Tools for East Timor Project brought together Masons, Catholics, Rotarians, the Country Fire Authority and other volunteers around Victoria to send 3.6 million tools to the war-ravaged country.
Bishop Hilton Deakin (pictured) described the project as "a powerful means of healing long-standing divisions of prejudice and misunderstanding within the Australian community".
Wednesday night's public show of unity was decided on in a departure lounge at Adelaide airport last month after a discussion between the Grand Master of Freemasons Victoria, John Evans, and the chairman of the Catholic Knights of the Southern Cross, Colin Walsh.
The two men had shared a life-changing experience in East Timor, where they attended the handover of tools to East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmao. First lady Kirsty Sword Gusmao will attend Wednesday night's recognition function for sponsors, volunteers and members of the public.
Mr Evans and Mr Walsh believe the public show of solidarity will bury 80 years of prejudice and suspicion between two groups.
"This is a big breaking of the barriers," said Mr Walsh, who heads more than 5000 Knights in Victoria. "I'm taking a bit of heat on it, surprisingly from some younger members, but a small minority isn't going to stop us.
"This breakthrough has been as welcome for us as it has been for the thousands in East Timor who were crying out for tools."
Meeting of the faiths (Herald-Sun 13/12/03)
Knights of the Southern Cross Australia
15 Dec 2003