Communique Concerning the Dread Bush Fires in Victoria
We turn to you in this most difficult hour for all peoples of Australia, a time when every soul "mourns and suffers" due to the great and horrific tragedies which have befallen our Continent. Fires and floods, these dread natural disasters, have consumed over two hundred innocent lives. Many have been hurt and countless lamentable and suffering individuals are left without a roof over their heads. Persons, who have endeavoured their entire lives to establish the basic needs for their children and to secure a peaceful end to their own lives, now have lost absolutely everything.
When such disasters occur, they do not identify victims by their faith, or the colour of their skin, nor the race to which they belong. All have suffered: those who are related to us by blood and generation and all who have found themselves in the devastation of nature gone wild, at present themselves do "mourn and suffer awaiting the sons of men" (cf. Rom. 8).
Therefore, beloved in Christ, appealing to every Serb without exception, as well as to every person of good will, We forward this Evangelic invitation and Christian invitation: asking you to respond as true sons of men, to manifest your charity and love, to aid each according to their personal ability, that, according to the words of our most holy Patriarch Pavle "always and at all times to be human, and never inhuman".
Thereby, the substance of the entire Gospel of Christ may be understood in light of but a few verses that Christ shared with his disciples, speaking to them with regard to the precepts of their salvation: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. . . Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me " (Мт. 25:35-36, 40).
Anticipating that you will hear the voice of Christ and the Holy Church and that you will respond to the cries of those helpless, We pray, and invite you to pray to God Omnipotent that in accordance with this our
D E S I G N A T I O N
Sunday, 15 February 2009 -the Great Feast of the Meeting of the Lord - to be set aside as the common day for aiding all suffering persons in Australia, that on that day we may fulfil our filial love in the Divine Love - Agape - through liturgical prayers and the solicitation of an extra collection in every parish church. In like manner, all Church-School Community Boards are requested to set aside a financial contribution as a donation, and in addition to prepare proper events for the solicitation of funds.
And that our good deeds are not separated from prayer, all clergy are hereby directed to remember at the Great Entrance "all the victims of the fires and floods, their families, and all those who mourn or suffer".
Indeed, those who desire and "have ears to hear", may offer to help by turning to their local parish community and giving their donation designated for aid to those who suffer in the bush fires. Local parishes and church-school communities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland may choose, if they so desire as concerned neighbours and responsible citizens, to directly donate their contributions to local authorities or charitable organisations, given that they inform the Diocesan Offices, while the remaining communities are requested to submit their contributions directly to the Diocesan Offices.
Praying that you be blessed with every good from the Lord who is the only consolation for those who suffer, the misfortunate and sick and that we all manifest ourselves as worthy followers of Christ and our glorious ancestors.
10 February 2009
With Archpastoral blessings and paternal love,
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
Administrator of the Diocese for Australia and New Zealand
New Gracanica Metropolitanate