ILLUMINATED CROSS GETS BLESSING OF ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY
The million-dollar, 20-metre-tall illuminated cross project in remote Central Australia is a step closer to reality after a community meeting gave the idea its blessing. The proposal for building a massive cross on a 190 metre high hill near the remote community of Haasts Bluff, or Ikuntji, 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs, is being driven by New South Wales photographer Ken Duncan. On his website, Mr Duncan said he first heard of the idea when three community leaders spoke to him of their “vision to build a cross on top of Memory Mountain” in 2009. Haasts Bluff community leader and traditional owner Douglas Multa said there had been some misinformation and confusion during two earlier meetings, but as of last week there was no opposition to the plans.
“Everyone seems to be on the track … everything is ready to go ahead … there is excitement and relief around the community, following meeting after meeting it has been solved,” Mr Multa said. “Members of the community had a vision about the cross, then one day we approached Ken and said ‘mate, is it possible to put up a cross up here’? And he said ‘yep, it is possible’,” Mr Multa said. Mr Multa, who along with his sister Alison Multa first invited Mr Duncan to join them at Haasts Bluff for an Easter gathering in 2009, said the Lutheran congregation in the community was in support of the cross. “It’s going to mean training and proper jobs and wages for the community and young people,” he said. “The way I see it is, Ken’s just helping the people out. Some people say it’s Ken’s cross but it’s not, it’s our cross.”
The former president of the MacDonnell Regional Council, Sid Anderson, who lives in nearby Papunya, was at the meeting and said nothing is standing in the way of the construction of the cross. “It will attract tourists and maybe Aboriginal people that drive past will have a look,” Mr Anderson said. “I think the community is happy the decision has been made and as soon as the cross can be put up and the light goes up then everybody will be jumping up and down with joy. “It will benefit the community to not rely upon government money … self-determination for people at Haasts Bluff.” Mr Anderson said that Haasts Bluff has an estimated population of around 200. The cross will be ‘seen from afar at night.
Mr Duncan was the photographer chosen by Mel Gibson to shoot on the set of his movie “The Passion of the Christ”. He launched Walk a While, after his first visit to Haasts Bluff in 2000 where he realised that the people had little access to the technology most artists take for granted. Mr Duncan says “Its mission is to walk alongside the Indigenous people, using the creative arts as common ground, providing youth with equipment and skills to tell their stories and to improve their future employment opportunities.” The Walk A While website said the cross “will be 20 metres high, made of steel and erected on top of Memory Mountain”. “The cross will be outlined with solar-powered LED lights so it can be seen from afar at night. All permissions and plans are in place and the project has been carefully costed.”
Walk A While states the project would require “almost $1 million”. The Walk A While website detailed how God spoke directly to Mr Duncan, giving him advice on how to raise funds for the project and warning him he would need “strong centurion soldiers”. “Feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project, Ken prayed and asked God for help. Instantly Ken felt at peace and over the following weeks, God began to unfold His strategy to raise funds for the Cross.” “God showed Ken that he would face opposition to building the Cross. If this is as important as we believe it to be, then there will be spiritual warfare.” On the website, God is quoted as saying to Mr Duncan: “I don’t want just you and your Indigenous friends to build the cross. I want the body of Christ to build it. This project will unite the army of the Lord.”
“If you had 100 people, each committed to raising $5,000, that would provide $500,000. That amount will be a strong start to your fund raising,” God told Mr Duncan. The Walk A While website said it would turn to crowd funding to get the project built. People or groups that donated $100,000 to “help raise the cross” would be bestowed with the title of Platinum Commander and receive benefits including “helmet or sword (only one of each available) from The Passion of the Christ movie beautifully presented in perspex display case, signed by Mel Gibson”, the website said. The site stated Platinum Commanders would also receive an invitation to attend the celebration for the launch of the cross.
Other benefits for Platinum Commanders would be a “one-day personal photographic workshop with Ken” and a “free download of specially written song Power Of The Cross”. Other “commitment levels” include Golden General (for donors of $50,000 to $99,000), Warrior Soldier ($1,000 to $2,499) and Armour Bearer ($5 to $49). All levels receive the benefit of “being able to say that you were part of bringing this vision to pass”, the website said. On an “honour roll” page, individuals and organisations which have donated are thanked for their contributions. Silver Tribune donors ($20,000 to $49,000) include “Mission Australia, Sydney”, with Walk A While stating executives from the church visited the Haasts Bluff site in October 2012. There is one Platinum Commander donor listed as “Anonymous, Australia”.
CATHOLIC BISHOP CALLS FOR BISHOPS WHO FAILED TO ADDRESS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE TO RESIGN
An Australian bishop has called on Pope Francis to request the resignation of every bishop who has failed to properly address cases of child sexual abuse. Roman Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said there needed to be “death and resurrection” in the church to restore trust and credibility. “Every bishop who has ever been responsible for the abuse of a child, because he did not do what he should have done, should be asked to resign,” Bishop Robinson, now retired, said in an interview with ABC Radio religion specialist Noel Debien. His suggestion would mean the resignation of hundreds of bishops worldwide. “The church has lost almost all credibility,” he said. “It has got to be seen to be confronting anything and everything which has contributed.”
Bishop Robinson also said the church must “get rid of obligatory celibacy” and called for a shift in the role of women in the church. “Women must be brought into every level of the church in a far greater way than they are,” he said. Bishop Robinson was a key player in the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse between 1994 and 2003. He was a member and chairman of the Bishops’ National Committee for Professional Standards — part of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which dealt with complaints of sexual abuse. He was also one of the founders and chairman of Encompass Australasia, a program which offered treatment to “hundreds of priests with psychological problems of one form or another”.
ACT JOINS VICTORIA IN DEFYING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM
The ACT government has joined Victoria in openly defying the federal government by offering to fund an unchanged Safe Schools program with their own budgets. The Safe Schools program was recently downsized after a campaign by right-wing MPs and Christian lobby groups. An independent review of the program found that a number of the resources had included content not appropriate for all children. The debate over changes to the supposed anti-bullying program remains heated, with the Greens attacking the prime minister by accusing him of capitulating to “homophobic” and “bigoted” members in his party over the issue. Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had “squibbed” his opportunity to show leadership, instead caving in to conservative dinosaurs in the coalition.
Senator Di Natale said the prime minister should dis-endorse conservative George Christensen, who spearheaded the backbench revolt, and whose comments on the topic were “outrageous”. The Queensland government also condemned Mr Christensen’s comments, calling them offensive, disturbing and shameful. “Mr Christensen’s comments have the potential to put already vulnerable children at risk of depression, suicide and self-harm,” Queensland state Education Minister Kate Jones said. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham rejected the Greens’ claim of homophobes in his party but acknowledged the debate drew out extreme views on both sides. “We’ve stood up to the extremes in this debate and charted a sensible middle course that backs the rights of parents, and protects our children” he said.
An alternative anti-bullying program has come to light that was started by a Christian and embraced by the Cronulla Sharks Rugby League team in Sydney. Bretty Murray is the founder of the Make Bullying History Foundation. He has dedicated his life to seeing kids overcome adversity and pursue their dreams. He currently has a documentary being produced about him in New Zealand, and the Cronulla Sharks have adopted his anti-bullying program and are taking it into 15 schools in their local area with football players being the local ambassadors. The program is brilliant and a wonderful alternative to the ‘Safe Schools’ initiative. The program was profiled on the National Rugby League (NRL) Footy Show as something worth getting behind and supporting. It would be good to see the NRL role out this anti-bullying program in all of their clubs, and then see it adopted by schools everywhere. To find out more go towww.makebullyinghistory.org