Did the 'first cab of the rank' go into top gear
In Britain, the new translation of the Order of Mass has started being introduced into parishes, while in pioneering New Zealand it has been in use since Advent last year. Here, one of its bishops explains what happened when he asked the faithful for their response.
As a bishop, I have been concerned about the proposed new changes in liturgical language in the Mass. As has become evident, there are big question marks over what is proposed and the process by which it came about. We need to remember that generally priests, reli- gious and lay people were never consulted about these changes. One has to acknowledge, as would be the experience of English-speaking bishops’ conferences, that what they finally voted for will not be the end product. What the International Commission on English in the Liturgy submitted was taken over by Vox Clara, which made further substantial changes. Since New Zealand was the ‘first cab off the rank’ (apart from South Africa which apparently ‘jumped the gun’), I took the opportunity to consult our faithful in the diocese for their reaction to the changes. Indeed, in the Vatican II document Presbyterorum Ordinis, clergy are exhorted to “listen to the laity willingly, con- sider their wishes in a fraternal spirit and recognise their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to read the signs of the times.” Here in New Zealand this first stage — much of it the people’s responses in the Mass — was introduced in Advent 2010.
Without being too scientific, I asked the people to consider three points: what they liked about the changes, what reservations they had about them, and what their thoughts were on the musical offer- ings. My intention is to collate the responses and include them in my diocesan ad limina report for Rome later this year.
While some parishes provided a group reply with a number adding their name to the sub- mission, there were altogether about 180 replies. The answers were revealing. A small number gave a pass mark with such comments as: “We have to get used to change” and “It will be OK when we can memorise it.” Only two were very happy about the changes, with one of them saying they were “thrilled”. Of all the comments, 17 per cent were positive and 83 per cent were negative. While the minority gave reasons such as “it deepens the meaning of the Mass” and that it “is a more reverent translation,” opponents declared that it was “unnecessary,” “confusing and meaningless,” that the “rationale was unclear” and that it was a “backward step and pre-Vatican II in language style.”
The musical offerings that have been put forward for the Proper of the Mass also took a battering, with a combined percentage of over 70 per cent complaining that the music was “hard to sing,” “too complicated and slow,” “difficult to learn” and “more suited to choirs than congregations.” Admittedly, this problem of music will be alleviated in time when new compositions come on stream.
Words and phrases most opposed to in the new translation were “with your spirit,” “come under my roof, “consubstantial” and the “I confess” (the Confiteor). The biggest complaint, though, was reserved for the use of the word “men” in the Nicene Creed. One of our New Zealand bishops’ conference submissions to Rome on the text was for inclusiveness (not only in the Nicene Creed but also in the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer). This was not permitted by the Congregation for Divine Worship. Let us be clear about this. Christ died for all — not some, not many, but all. It is an embarrassment to our Catholic Church and its claim to inclusiveness. To persist with only saying ‘men’ in the Creed is offensive and disparaging to our womenfolk who make up the majority of our faith family. There is also a blatant inconsistency when homines used in the Gloria is translated as ‘people’ whereas the same word in the Nicene Creed is translated as ‘men.’ This is a no-brainer. I hope that most of us will continue to pray in the Creed “for us and our salvation.” Other reasoning given by the faithful surveyed in opposing the new translation is that “the sentence structure is convoluted”; “stilted and lacks syntactical flow”; many words are “archaic and never used in colloquial English.” There was opposition to this literal translation that was considered an inferior choice to dynamic equivalence, and the move from communal to personal profession of faith was seen as another backward step.
I detected behind many of the comments in the survey that a number were seeking a deeper theo- logical dimension. This was the understanding of how God was being presented and perceived. There was a feeling of a loss of God’s closeness to us, that God was aloof or distant, almost a sense of deism. Of course we need to stress the transcendence of God but not at the cost of losing that sense of intimacy that our faith celebrates, that of an incarnational God; that it is Abba Father who draws us to himself by and with and in Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Some people mentioned a loss of the “spirit in the Liturgy” and I think this is what they meant. The liturgist Raymond G. Helmick made the same point in his telling article (The Tablet, 6 November 2010) that a God who is perceived as distant becomes irrelevant and unreal. Any thought that our spirit-filled liturgy celebrating God’s unconditional and life-giving love for us becomes remote and distant should seriously give us all pause to think.
We need to take heed of what Pope Benedict has been saying. It is encouraging to see him quot- ing with approval the principles for translation proposed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in Verbum Domini: “A translation, of course, is always more than a simple transcription of the original texts. The passage from one language to another necessarily involves a change of cultural context: concepts are not identical and symbols have a dif- ferent meaning, for they come up against other traditions of thought and other ways of life.”
Before we go any further with implementing this translation in the English-speaking world, it is imperative that we consult with the people of God and hear them. Then, I pray, that all of us together may hear “what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:29).
Colin Campbell is Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand. Reprinted from the London Tablet.
http://www.thetablet.co.uk with kind permission Colin Campbell
The baby and the bathwater
There is a seismic shift in the way asylum seekers can be treated after a recent High Court of Australia decision. The writer outlines what has happened before this, and possibilities for the future.
Recently a Sydney Morning Herald cartoonist used this heading “the baby and the bathwater” to sum up Australia’s current refugee policy: Australia’s humanitarian reputation being thrown out in the Government’s ‘Malaysian Solution’. For many of us, that baby was thrown out at least ten years ago when Captain Arne Rinnan, Master of the Tampa, was asked to rescue people from the sinking Palapa and then forbidden to put them ashore on Australian soil. The shame of that drama and its human aftermath, the anger at what was done in our name can still rise to the surface as we meet asylum seekers from Africa, China, Sri Lanka or the Middle East at Villawood in western Sydney. This is one of several Immigration Detention Centres around Australia where asylum seekers await the often lengthy determinations of their claims.
Policy with a human face
It’s in these detention centres we meet the human face of our refugee policy. Vividly remembered is the story of one Congolese man who had dared to speak against the violence devastating his country. One Thursday he was with us at the Eucharist, leading the singing with gusto. Next Thursday he was gone, without warning. Returned to the Congo with his life in danger, he fled again. In 2004 I interviewed him in South Africa where he is still, with no rights at all and no hope of rejoining his wife and family. Now we are meeting men from Sri Lanka who have been granted refugee status but are waiting many months later for the result of secu- rity checks. As we hope and pray with them, we share their anxiety. Why this delay? Will they, too, be deported to danger as some before them have been?
The politics of fear and the politics of popularity still load the dice against people arriving from the sea to seek asylum. For ten years, policy has been bolstered by the ‘border protec- tion’ slogan, as though fragile boats approaching our shores carried an invading army. A new Government slogan, ‘stop the people smugglers’, focuses attention on ‘criminals’ who profit from asylum seekers’ need, a new bid to attract public support. The Opposition meanwhile plies the politics of fear with its own slogan, ‘stop the boats’.
Policy based on self-interest
Despite the abolition of the so-called Pacific Solution and the Temporary Protection Visas, policy is still based on political self-interest, not on the fundamental human rights of asylum seekers and our obligations to them as a signatory to the international treaties which establish their rights. Mandatory detention still discriminates against ‘boat people’; the ill effects on physical and mental health remain the same; the fear of anti-refugee feeling in the electorate is still para- lysing political leadership. Currents of protest generated by a shelf full of books, two Senate Inquiries, two ‘Deported to Danger’ reports, a stream of criticism from lawyers, doctors, counsellors, journalists, film-makers, persistent advocates and satiric artists have not turned the political tide.
The Malaysian solution
Witness the Malaysian Solution, a new attempt to sidestep Australia’s responsibilities to the world’s refugees. As soon as it was announced, this ‘deal’, to hand over 800 people seeking asylum in Australia to be processed entirely in Malaysia, was challenged by human rights advocates. How could we ‘share responsibilities’ with a nation which has not signed the Refugee Convention and does not have the word ‘refugee’ in its official vocabulary? How could we rely on an ‘assurance’, not binding in law, to guarantee that the rights of those people would be fully respected and protected? Willingness to take such risks with the lives of vulner- able people suggests a lamentable absence of principled debate in the negotiations. Once more we would be paying others to do our international duty.
The high court decision
Now the High Court has endorsed all the protests, declaring the Malaysian plan invalid and setting three conditions to be met by any country to which asylum seekers might be sent to have their claims for protection assessed. Malaysia is ruled out. Papua New Guinea and Nauru are considered unlikely to meet the Court’s criteria. The Government is mired in a morass partly inherited, partly of its own making.
Fr Frank Brennan summed up the new state of affairs: “Asylum seekers arriving by boat now need to be processed fairly, promptly, on our terms and on our turf. And that’s the way it should have been all along.” We are cautiously hope- ful. According to an opinion poll taken shortly before the Court’s decision, 53% of Australians now agree with him. The High Court has in fact offered the Government a golden opportunity to do what justice demands: proceed immedi- ately to clear the protection claims of the 5000 plus people currently in demoralising detention on the mainland or Christmas Island and make ready, with our ample resources, to welcome and deal humanely with those who may seek asylum in future.
'Human rights bible'
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) proclaimed the freedom, dignity and equal fundamental rights of every person born into the human family. After the horrors of two world wars it became, as it were, the ‘human rights bible’. By signing and ratifying the Refugee Convention we have bound our nation to uphold those rights for asylum seekers. Until that obligation is incorporated into our national law we can find ways to evade it.
For a Christian, however, human rights also fall under a Divine imperative: you must love your neighbour as yourself. Again and again the Hebrew prophets called their people to care for the most vulnerable among them, typified by their widows and orphans. Micah summed up the message: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
On a memorable day in the Nazareth synagogue, Jesus made his own Isaiah’s cry for an end to the oppression and destitution spawned by greed (Luke 4:16-22). In the Gospel’s most familiar par- able, the robbed and wounded man on the roadside is Everyman, a paradigm of suffering human- ity; the Samaritan, a paradigm of the Christian disciple. Suffering humanity is on our doorstep in every person seeking asylum with us. Robbed of their rights at home, they come bearing in body and spirit the wounds injustice inflicts.
Faced with the challenge to love them as ourselves, those of us who claim the Christian name do well to recall the most compelling claim of that Divine imperative: As often as you do it to the least of my brothers or sisters, you do it to me (Matthew 25:40).
Mary Britt is a Dominican Sister and former prioress of her congregation. For years she has been part of a volunteer support group visiting detainees at Villawood each week.There is a seismic shift in the way asylum seekers can be treated after a recent High Court of Australia decision.The writer outlines what has happened before this, and possibilities for the future.
Picking up the pieces
Accepting refugees into New Zealand is one part of the picture. Doing what’s required to help them settle is another thing altogether.
New Zealand has provided a safe haven for a quota of refugees ever since it accepted 753 Polish children and 105 accompanying adults at the end of the Second World War. These days, under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) quota scheme, we put our hand up to accept 750 refugees annually — a respectable number internationally but a modest contribution given the global scale of the problem.
The UNHCR estimates that there are 10-12 million refugees worldwide and a massive 40 million displaced persons. A refugee is defined by UNHCR as “a person who flees his/ her home country due to a well- founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. “Internationally we are ranked highly on the basis of our acceptance of refugees,” says Amanda Calder, refugee advocate and the driving force behind the Refugee Family Reunification Trust, a Wellington based charity dedicated to reuniting refugees with their families.
“New Zealand does its fair share but there’s always room for improve- ment. I’d always be for increasing the number of refugees that New Zealand takes but before we do that we should be looking after the ones that we have already accepted, and their fami- lies. In my opinion, our UNHCR Refugee Quota Programme should cater better for family reunification.”
There are three ways that a refugee may be accepted for per- manent residence in New Zealand. They may be part of the 750 quota which New Zealand accepts as part of the UNHCR Refugee Quota Programme. The majority of these refugees in the 1990s and early 2000s were from East African countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, and more recently from countries in the Asia Pacific region such as Cambodia and Myanmar.
A second group of refugees who may be eligible for residency are asylum-seekers, often referred to as ‘spontaneous refugees’. “The arrival of asylum seekers in New Zealand is happening less and less due to advance passenger screen- ing by airlines,” says Amanda. “It’s a different story if you are bordering other countries but we are so far away. We have fewer asylum seekers than most countries, much fewer than Australia is facing. For those that do make it to New Zealand, there are laws and protections.”
The third way that refugees can come to New Zealand is via general immigration visa categories, including the Refugee Family Support Category, or family-sponsored categories. This group is not considered by the New Zealand government to be official ‘refugees’, even though they may have been living as refugees. They do not undergo orienta- tion and they or their sponsors have to pay the costs associated with their travel and arrival – a tall order when the families supporting them are themselves refugees.
A total of 300 places are available through the Refugee Family Support Category programme. However New Zealand policy narrowly defines ‘family’, restricting it to the immediate family of the principal applicant. This definition ignores the reality of kinship ties which characterise refugee family networks. Says Amanda: “There should be a family reunification component within the UNHCR Refugee Quota Programme that allows for refugees to bring in their families. Currrently we have 750 people arrive here each year, and within a matter of weeks they typically need help to reunite with an elderly mother or a child left behind. It’s a big job to pick up the pieces.”
Reuniting with their families is the major concern for former refugees living in New Zealand. It is the key to refugees successfully making a new life in New Zealand – without the support of family members, refugees coming from traumatised backgrounds often struggle to integrate into New Zealand society.
“When you have a split family, they are going to struggle to reset- tle and be happy,” says Amanda. “It’s very hard for them to focus on employment and education and contributing to the community when they are unhappy. Wellington Refugees as Survivors, a mental health service for refugees, finds that more than 80% of their clients can be discharged as soon as their families arrive. “Reuniting families has a hugely positive impact on mental health. It would be cheaper in the long run to have families together than not. There are still refugees who have been here for many years who have children or other significant family members left behind.”
The critical importance of family reunification to successful refugee settlement led to the establishment of the Refugee Family Reunification Trust, a Wellington-based charity which has successfully reunited more than 300 refugees with their families. Every cent of funds raised is passed omailto:email@example.com to refugees and their families for airfares, medical reports and application fees charged by Immigration New Zealand. “A similar Trust is being set up in Auckland, and the Hamilton Catholic Diocese is also looking at setting up one,” says Amanda. Christchurch has a similar Trust but is struggling to fundraise in the earthquake-hit region.
“There are also plenty of people and organisations in the community who are getting involved in helping refugees settle successfully,” says Amanda.
“A lot of communities are doing great work behind the scenes – St Vincent de Paul for example, Rotary and service clubs, colleges and church communities. St Joseph’s parish where I go has been fantastic. My message to people is that if anyone reaches out to a refugee and makes an effort either to be friendly or to help them, their own life will also be greatly enriched by it. ”
A qualified lawyer, Amanda has been working in the field for 17 years and was recently awarded a QSM for services to the community. In addition to founding and running the Refugee Family Reunification Trust, she is a volunteer at the Wellington Community Law Centre, and was instrumental in setting up the Refugee Immigration Legal Advice Service.
“It’s very satisfying work, though sometimes there is too much of it! There’s nothing better than going to the airport and seeing a family getting back together again.” Mike Fitzsimons
Whadda ya know
The question of how to look at the problems with the consumption of alcohol in New Zealand using scientific evidence is the day-to-day work of Professor Doug Sellman, Director of the National Addiction Centre in Christchurch. Dr. Sellman is a psychiatrist who has been working in the field of addiction treatment in New Zealand for the past 26 years. Tui Motu asked him about his specialist field.
Tell us about your alcohol advocacy work
I see it as informing New Zealanders about the best scientific information available in relation to alcohol and how to get better control of it. It began with a group of colleagues in the addiction treatment field, which is undergoing ‘a renaissance’ in terms of public health issues associated with addiction. I am now one of the medi- cal spokespeople for Alcohol Action NZ, an organization set up at the same time as the Law Commission’s review of the alcohol laws, a once-in- a-generation opportunity to review our nation’s use of alcohol.
It appears that NZ has a larger problem with alcohol than lots of other western countries. Do you agree, and what might be the cause of this?
New Zealand is up there in terms of alcohol-related harm. When you pour a potentially dangerous drug into a society the amount of resulting harm will depend on both the amount of alcohol that’s poured, as well as the strength of the society its being poured into. New Zealand has a high per capita consumption and has become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world over the past 20-30 years. Along with this, New Zealand has a highly unregulated alcohol market in which alcohol businesses can flourish. This excessive commercialisation of alcohol leads to a perfect recipe for a heavy drinking culture — low prices, highly accessible to young people, highly accessible to the whole population and normalised as a routine grocery item, over $300,000 a day of alcohol marketing and legal drunk driving for adults. The combination of these three main factors (lots of alcohol, weakening society, ‘unbridled’ commercialisation) underlie the national alcohol crisis — New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture.
What do you mean by legal drunk driving?
By “legal drunk driving” I mean we have the system whereby people over the limit of the medical definition of intoxication (0.05) are able to drive legally. At 0.08, New Zealand has one of the highest drink driving limits for adults in the developed world. Australia, like many other Western countries, has a drink driving limit of 0.05; and many are contemplating lowering it even further.
It seems that binge drinking is the in-thing for young adults. Would you like to comment on this, and the effects of binge drinking on our young adults?
A fairly standard definition of binge drinking is drinking six or more standard drinks in a session. Many young adults however drink two to three times that amount and therefore are getting close to consuming a lethal dose, which is 20-30 standard drinks. The reasons why binge drinking is fashionable are complex but one thing we know for sure — the alcohol industry just loves young adults drinking as much as they do because more than half of their astronomical profit comes from heavy drinking. They carefully stoke the binge drinking fire with very clever brain-washing advertising.
They have begun to put comments such as ‘drink responsibly’ on some beverage containers to try and look respectable, but this is just a smoke screen. They know they are in the drug business and they know the damage that individuals and communities suffer from their product, but they refuse to put a suggested dose on the container. Low risk drinking is drinking fewer than14 standard drinks per week and no more than four drinks on any one occasion. That level of drinking gives the consumer a 1% chance of dying of an alcohol related cause over their lifetime. There is no ‘safe’ use of alcohol except drinking no alcohol.
Alcohol is a drug that can be one of life’s small pleasures and comforts when taken in a low risk manner. However, when used in excess, alcohol causes depression, aggression, brain damage and cancer for starters. Over 60 different medical conditions are linked with heavy alcohol use. There are over 1000 alcohol-related deaths per year (20 every week), and over 70,000 alcohol-related physical and sexual assaults per year (200 every day).
What values are being undermined in our society by general misuse of alcohol?
Does our society have an agreed set of values? If so, please let me know what they are.
Drug use is a short cut, pseudo-solution to life’s challenges and problems. Habitually drinking alcohol, instead of working on these problems, will lead to a stalled, dysfunctional life.This is not a moral crusade though. We are simply doing our jobs and promoting evidence-based solutions to New Zealand’s damaging heavy drinking culture.
There are complex issues that underlie alcohol addiction. Would you comment on that?
Alcohol addiction is described medically as a ‘complex disorder’ which means that it is caused by multiple environmental factors interacting with multiple genetic influences. Best estimates at the current time are that the genetic influence could involve 300- 400 interacting genes. So the environmental influences which twenty years ago seemed so bewilderingly varied and complex now seem much simpler in comparison. At the heart of environmental influences for every addiction is an industry scheming to make us and our children their customers for life. Addiction to alcohol, like every other addiction, involves an ‘apprenticeship’ in which consumption of the addictive product is practised until it becomes compulsively second-nature. The industry’s strategic plan is to get as many New Zealanders undertaking this practice, drinking heavily and frequently, and hoping that many will become habitual heavy drinkers.
Are there ways that society can be tapped to help overcome alcohol abuse?
There is a strong body of international research that outlines how a society can reduce its alcohol related problems. This body of research was assembled in the 2003 World Health Organisation sponsored publication “Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity” (second edition, 2010). Its main findings are summarized in the 5+ Solution of Alcohol Action NZ (which you’ll notice is the opposite of the perfect recipe above):
- Raise alcohol prices
- Raise the purchase age
- Reduce alcohol accessibility
- Reduce alcohol marketing (advertising and sponsorship)
- Increase drink-driving counter measures PLUS increase treat- ment opportunities for heavy drinkers.
Crucially, education programmes have been shown to be of very little use in reducing alcohol-related harm. The Law Commission’s review of the liquor laws reflects this solution very well, but it now needs a government to lead effective alcohol law reform.
There's little problem getting smoking effectively banned. Why is this not also possible for alcohol?
You are understating the enormous struggle that has occurred in New Zealand over the last 50 years regarding the smoking culture! The result of that struggle is now being realised, and yes, you’re right, the thought of no smoking at all in New Zealand is not a scary thought now. We are at the beginning of a similar struggle with alcohol, where we were with smoking perhaps in the 1960s. However, the end game for alcohol is likely to be different because a lot more of the population are able to drink alcohol in a low risk manner compared with the numbers who are able (or want) to smoke in a low risk manner. Low risk smoking is smoking fewer than 5 cigarettes a week.
So the equivalent of Smokefree is Heavydrinkingfree, not Alcoholfree.
Are there bi-partisan ways of making effective government policy against alcohol abuse?
We will need political champions across the spectrum to bring about change — as has occurred with tobacco. At the current time, alcohol is not an election issue because Labour is not putting up alcohol policy that is significantly different from National’s. But let’s wait and see.
Dr Doug Sellman, a psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist, has been Director of the National Addiction Centre (NAC), University of Otago, Christchurch, since 1996. In recent years, he has become actively involved in evidence-based national advocacy for alcohol law reform, and is one of the medical spokespeople for Alcohol Action NZ. www.alcoholaction.co.nz