I like Father Bob Maguire. No doubt part of this may be attributed to what he doesn’t do as he goes about applying Christian values as he sees them.

A visit to his website is rewarding. No more us and them. Just we is the subtitle. As we approach Easter his blog outlines Stations of the Cross under the heading, Way of the cross with Jesus, and all suffering victimised women. It continues;


We remember and pray for:
Faceless women condemned to death for their religious beliefs, their culture, colour or creed.


We remember and pray for:
Women who carry the cross of terrible atrocities through the misuse of power and abuse.


We remember and pray for:
The women of East Timor who yet again fall to the burden of being displaced.


We remember and pray for:
Women who have mourned the loss of a child through drug or alcohol abuse

…. etc, etc…..

This strikes me as exemplary application of a pinnacle in Christian teaching. Not only can these values be identified with, but presented this way, help to educate about our contemporary world. One imagines this is the type of image Evonne Paddison hopes to convey to the Victorian public when she speaks of “Christian values”, not proselytising, dominating primary school classes.

But we know that this Easter the familiar solemn reminder of Jesus dying for our sins will be the message from ACCESS Ministries. The graphic betrayal, torture and death of Jesus will be explained, followed by the supernatural feats of rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.

This will be taught as fact, as is the case with Christian education. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering – perhaps worrying – about the appropriateness of this lesson in contemporary Western society. As an Aussie I feel a responsibility to acknowledge and understand as much as I can about the culture, beliefs and traditions of the children who come from the homes of those we welcome as immigrants. Those Australian children who speak one of the over 300 different languages than English as their native tongue.

For many, the Easter message of Christ’s sacrifice may challenge the spirituality that fits with almost all they know. For others the solemn, stern, silent tone that descends upon us (or is demanded of us) when we discuss “the meaning” of Easter is unsettling, unreal and perhaps unfathomable.

Father Bob seems to straddle 2,000 years and an entire planet with his customised Stations of the Cross. His values appear universal, non-divisive, compassionate, generous and inclusive. Today The Age ran a piece on Father Bob’s views on Religious Instruction in Victoria. And yes, those values of the Maguire I admire, shine through;

Call to teach children the ethos of all religion © The Age

CATHOLIC priest Father Bob Maguire has called for a review into the way religion is taught in schools.

The priest and community worker said he believed religious education should be broader than instruction in one belief system.

”Children can have religious instruction in parishes, mosques and ashrams.

”At school, there ought to be a general religious curriculum to introduce children to the ideas and motivations and rituals – in a word, the ethos – of all the religions,” said Father Bob, who is the parish priest in South Melbourne.


Although other religions including Judaism, Islam and Baha’i, are also accredited to run courses, 96 per cent of special religious instruction is provided by Christian education provider Access Ministries.

Access Ministries insists its volunteers do not proselytise, but some parents say their children come home from school saying they were taught they must believe in God.

An army chaplain during the Vietnam War, Father Bob said the importance of teaching soldiers about honesty and truthfulness, without infusing religion into character training, had been impressed on all the chaplains.

He said religious instructors in schools should lead open-ended discussions that drew no conclusions.

”It should be mum and dad who help children come to conclusions, not the instructor in religious class,” Father Bob said.


‘You have to get to learn about one another before you can live with one another.”If you keep separating and dividing you are going to foment distrust, dislike and fear. Fear is the killer.”

Father Bob is the patron of InterAction, a multi-faith youth network that includes Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, a pagan, atheists and agnostics.

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