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Jesuit head affirms power of the grassroots

Local communities and power bases are ultimately stronger than national politics and the forces of globalisation, according to Australian Jesuit Provincial Mark Raper.

Speaking at this week's launch of Caritas Australia's Project Compassion Lenten Appeal, Fr Raper (pictured) gave the example of the recent defeat of the Veteran's Affairs Bill. The Bill was defeated in Federal Department despite prior approval by Cabinet.

"It went down because it was opposed by the RSL [Returned Services League], a grass roots movement, present in every electorate around Australia."

Fr Raper was interpreting the Caritas slogan Think globally and act locally. He launched the appeal at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday before an audience that included Cardinal George Pell, NSW Premier Bob Carr, and NSW Governor Marie Bashir.

Applying the lesson to immigration policy and reflection on the recent Redfern Aboriginal riot, he also quoted British Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor's assertion last week that a war on poverty would tackle the root causes of terrorism.

Meanwhile John Paul II also focused on root causes in his Ash Wednesday homily when he stated that "external gestures of penance have value if they are expressions of an interior attitude, if they manifest the firm determination to turn away from evil and walk on the path of goodness. Here is the profound meaning of Christian asceticism."

In Brisbane, Archbishop John Bathersby said in his Lenten Pastoral Letter that because many people's lives are no longer rooted in conscious experience of God, they are "lost and confused, and seek inappropriate comfort in drugs, promiscuity, or consumerism, which merely re-enforces their sense of alienation and loss".

Building Peace, Bringing Hope (Fr Mark Raper SJ, Launch of Project Compassion, 24/2/04)
Pope Invites the Faithful to Focus on the Essentials (Zenit 25/2/04)
Archbishop John Bathersby's Lenten Pastoral Letter 2004 (Catholic Leader 29/2/04)

John Paul II Again Urges Aid to Children This Lent (Zenit 25/2/04)
Government ranks fractured over veterans' entitlements (ABC Radio PM 17/2/04)
Lenten lessons on the down escalator (National Catholic Reporter 25/2/04)
Call to prayer, action (Catholic Leader 29/2/04)
Project Compassion 2004

27 Feb 2004