Hobart Archbishop in Christmas call for "communion of hearts"

In a Christmas message noting continuing hostilities in Iraq, Palestine, Israel and elsewhere, Hobart Archbishop Adrian Doyle has called on Christians to work for "communion of hearts" and to make sacrifices for peace.

"Sadly, the news from Iraq continues to provide us with horrifying stories of the ongoing loss of life, where many are civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Archbishop Doyle writes in a message published this week on the archdiocese's website.

"Hostilities between Palestine and Israel have flared again this year.

"Much closer to our shores, in the new country of East Timor, civil disturbances caused the number of internally displaced persons to reach 70,000," said the Archbishop, who visited the country in September in his role as Chairman of Caritas Australia.

Archbishop Doyle says that there are two ways in approaching disadvantaged people.

"One way is in a powerful manner, in which we retain control," he said. "The other way is to approach people with 'communion of hearts' where there is no evidence of power and control, but of an openness and a willingness to listen and to be present."

Citing L'Arche founder, Jean Vanier, Archbishop Doyle said that peace required "the meeting of people who are different from us".

What is required in order to meet others "is an ability to listen, to be fully present to them, and to build up the community through loving one another," Archbishop Doyle said.

"I pray that this year, Christmas will be the opportunity for each of us to look into our own hearts, to ascertain whether we are peacemakers, through the search for a 'communion of hearts' with others," he concluded.

"Tsunami" of refugees herald sad Christmas in Sri Lanka, says bishop

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Bishop Joseph Swampillai of Batticaloa told Catholic News Service has described the flight of thousands of ethnic Tamils from their homes because of the war between Tamil rebels and government forces as "another tsunami."

"Just as what happened during the tsunami two years ago, people have fled their houses and are now living in [refugee] camps," Bishop Swampillai told the agency.

"We are relieved that the people are no more there [in the war-torn regions] to be killed," he said.

The bishop said the church is supporting three new refugee camps in Sri Lanka's Eastern province. The government opened the camps after thousands of trapped civilians fled from rebel-controlled areas to army-controlled areas on 16-17 December.

"How can you celebrate Christmas when there is so much ... suffering and problems around us?" the bishop asked.

"It's going to be another sad Christmas for us," he said.

Archbishop Adrian Doyle's
Christmas Message (Hobart Archdiocese)

Sri Lankan bishop calls Tamil refugee crisis 'another tsunami' (Universe, 21/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Hobart Archdiocese
Bishop Joseph Swampillai (Catholic-Hierarchy)

Sri Lanka reopens road to avoid starvation (CathNews, 21/11/06)
Sri Lankan priest disappears as civilian toll mounts (CathNews, 25/8/06)
Sri Lanka ceasefire in tatters (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Caritas calls for pressure as Sri Lankan church bombed, schoolgirls killed (CathNews, 17/8/06)
Troops storm Church as Sri Lanka on brink of war (CathNews, 19/6/06)
Caritas calls for urgent mediation in Sri Lanka (CathNews, 27/4/06)

22 Dec 2006