Bishop seeking "good news" on gifts of disabled

Bishop Max Davis, Australian bishops' delegate on disability issues, has called for contributions to a book focusing on the gifts of disabled people to be published in December for the International Day for People with Disabilities.

"I really expect that the publication of this book will provoke yet another step in a wonderful process, which will enrich our Church community's appreciation of the presence of Jesus in our midst - a presence which is so rich in diversity but so focused on the unity His Presence brings," said Bishop Davis, who is also the Military Bishop.

The book and celebration in December are part of the Australian bishops' new focus to the many gifts and blessings that people with disability and their families can bring to the life of the Church, Bishop Davis said last week.

Under the restructure, the Australian bishops acknowledged the need for the Bishops' Commission for Pastoral Life to have a specific mandate to promote the participation of people with disability and their families in faith life.

Bishop Davis said the lived experience of the life of Jesus challenges us all to be more aware of the diversity of needs that our faith community embraces.

"I am looking forward to listening to and learning from those who have a disability and to taking every opportunity to ensure that the whole Church community becomes more aware of the gifts of grace that are being offered," he said.

The Australian bishops started a dialogue at a national level in September 2004 when the former Bishops' Committee for the Family and for Life launched its pastoral document for parishes, entitled "I Have a Story."

"I Have a Story" acknowledged the importance of nurturing and encouraging parish communities to promote and practice the full participation of all church members.

Bishop Davis said he would establish a council to advise the Bishops' Commission on strategies and projects it can undertake to promote the participation of people with disability in Church life.

Meanwhile in Canberra, leading a prayer yesterday at a union rally for cleaners, Canberra's Bishop Pat Power has demanded that major cleaning contracts in the Woden district be awarded to "fair wage" rather than "low wage" companies.

Major tenders for the cleaning of high-rise office blocks in Woden are about to be issued. Local representatives for the multi-national cleaning giant ISS have indicated they will be placing low wage bids - bids that will lead the race to cut cleaners' minimum wage standards.

Bishop Power at the "Clean Start: Fair Deal for Cleaners" rally yesterday prayed that cleaners in Woden continue to enjoy fair and decent wages and working conditions.

Bishop Pat Power's prayers called for good conscience to be exercised in the assessment of which company should be awarded these contracts - asking that a "fair wages company" should win the tender.

Rally participants called on building managers in each of the biggest Woden buildings to accept a fair wage petition signed by workers in these buildings asking them to adhere to the good conscience call of church leaders.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC Media Release 30/6/06)
Clean Start Campaign (LHMU)

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Borderline disabled stuck in unemployment blackhole (CathNews 7/3/05)
Archbishop disappointed in Vic Budget (CathNews 1/1/06)
Families biggest losers under Workchoices, say clerics (CathNews 3/7/06)
Bishop's pre-emptive strike against workers' rights rollback (CathNews 7/12/04)

4 Jul 2006