Nazareth Catholic Parish

Grovedale, Torquay and Anglesea

A Place to Call Home

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The Australian Catholic Bishops are deeply concerned about Australia’s alarming growth in homelessness and insecure housing.
 
In their Social Justice Statement 2018-19, A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land, the Bishops have called on Australians to look beyond the immediate challenges of the average household budget, and to consider those who are homeless or facing housing stress because of skyrocketing rents and property prices.

In a letter to parishes around Australia, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, said: “It seems hard to believe that in a rich nation such as ours, the latest Census figures show that the number of Australians who are homeless has grown to more than 116,000.

“House prices and even rents are spiralling out of reach of too many families and placing huge financial stress on ordinary people, even when they are employed. For those living on pensions or allowances, finding secure housing can be a far greater challenge – one that often takes a terrible toll on social wellbeing and mental health.”

In his foreword to the statement, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council chairman, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv. said a ruthless housing market was leaving people struggling to find secure and affordable housing, whether they lived in cities or regional areas.

“That struggle has a corrosive effect on family life, on employment, on study and on our capacity to contribute to and benefit from our society. At its worst, the struggle leaves the vulnerable in our society homeless – sleeping on the street, in cars or in doorways, or hoping for a space on someone’s couch or floor,” he said.

The statement draws on Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan, reminding us that we have the same experience as the Samaritan: we see people in the street in need of help, wounded by violence, misfortune or poverty. We face the same choice: do we walk past or do we stop and help?

“Behind the people on the streets is another legion – those who are battling to keep the roof over their heads, wondering if they can make the next rent or mortgage payment,” Bishop Long said.

“Often, these are people who are employed but whose income is barely enough – or not enough – to keep themselves and their families housed and fed.

“Housing is a human right, asserted by documents like the UN Declaration of Human Rights and by the teachings of our Church. Housing is an essential entitlement for all people to meet their basic needs, flourish in community and have their inherent human dignity affirmed and upheld by others.”

This human right and the call of the Church was reinforced by the words and example of Pope Francis, who has made it a priority to reach out to the disadvantaged and marginalised of Rome, including homeless people, Bishop Long said.
 
 
 

My BUSINESS: YOUR BUSINESS: EVERYONE'S BUSINESS

Pope Francis has called for an economic system that places men and women at the very centre – one that meets the needs of all people and is just and sustainable. He denounces economic structures that take a purely utilitarian view of human beings, treating them as mere elements of production, to be thrown away if they are not seen as useful or productive.

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2017–18 is titled ‘Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy’. The Bishops call for an economy that is founded on justice and offers dignity and inclusion to every person.
The Bishops’ Statement is built around the Gospel for Social Justice Sunday, 24 September 2017. Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where all are active contributors and are recognised for their human dignity.

Australia has experienced a quarter of a century of continuous economic growth, but the benefits of this good fortune have not been distributed equally. In our workplaces, conditions and security of employment have been eroded, while those who are unemployed subsist on incomes well below poverty levels. Australia is experiencing a housing crisis. And our Indigenous brothers and sisters struggle with economic and social burdens that most Australians cannot imagine.

In the light of these challenges, the Statement calls us to build an economy founded on true solidarity with those who are most vulnerable. Such a society will reject an ‘ideology of the market’ that forgets the principles of justice and equity. Justice must be built into the very foundations of our community, and business can work for everybody’s benefit, not just for shareholders. The excluded and vulnerable must have a voice in decision-making. God is calling us to use his bounty wisely, for the good of all and of our planet.