16/07/2012 17:19

Social justice: Australian bishops to focus on family hardship

By Brian Davies. The well-being of families, the impact of social and economic pressures and the stress of global financial crises on them will be the focus of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference statement for Social Justice Sunday.

The statement will examine the increasing financial pressures families face, including the spiraling cost of housing, with house prices in the past decade up by 147 per cent.

The president of the Bish­ops Conference, the Arch­bishop of Melbourne, Arch­bishop Denis Hart, said families were the basis of our community of faith and the very foundation of society.

“Nurturing a family is a vocation, inspired by love but facing many challenges,” he said, “and Australian families are under pressure.

“More and more parents are obliged to work outside traditional working hours, including weekends, robbing them of time to nurture children and family relationships, making it harder for them to make ends meet financially and sometimes undermining the bonds of marriage and family life itself.”

Archbishop Hart said many families were living “on the margin – vulnerable indigenous families, single parent families, the homeless and others with special needs”.

The bishops are concerned that the global financial crisis is exacerbating the hardships.

The title of this year’s social justice statement is “The gift of family in difficult times”, i.e. the social and economic challenges families face today; for example, nearly 700,000 Australian households spend more than 30 per cent of their weekly income on rent or mortgage payments.

Archbishop Hart said: “As Christians we are called to be supportive of families, especially the most vulnerable,”

The bishops will urge Aus­tralians to take the Holy Fam­ily as inspiration, remembering the difficulties it faced from the moment of Jesus’ birth until his death.

They will also stress the importance of the rediscovery of the Sabbath as a time for rest, peace and prayer that resists the forces that pull families apart and deny them time together.

Social Justice Sunday is on 30 September.  (Cathnews.com)