OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Legal fraternity witnesses to “importance of our Christian values in our day to day work”

Monday, 31 January 2011

Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – This morning at St Mary's Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP, of Parramatta, celebrated the Red Mass. This Mass is “a very public witness of the importance of our Christian values in our day to day work,” said Professor Gerard Ryan, Dean of the School of Law at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, who gave an exclusive account to Fides. Today, 31 January, the day on which the law courts open again for the New Year, is the day on which the Red Mass has been celebrated in St Mary's every year since 1931. Professor Ryan said the Mass was “well attended by members of parliament, judges, barristers, solicitors, law academics, law students, families, friends and members of the public.” He described it as a “very impressive spectacle... particularly the Supreme Court judges in their bright red robes.” The name of the Mass is derived from these robes and the clergy's red vestments which represent the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit.

Concelebrating the Mass were Father Peter Joseph (chaplain to the St Thomas More Society for Sydney’s Catholic lawyers) and Monsignor Robert McGuckin (Vicar General of the Diocese of Parramatta and Canon Law lecturer at the University of Notre Dame). Prof. Ryan told Fides that in his homily, Bishop Fisher, himself a former solicitor, pointed out that, “after those in religious life, the most common profession represented amongst the saints is that of the lawyer.”

The Professor went on to describe the importance of the Mass: “for a lawyer, it represents an opportunity for the entire legal profession to come together and to focus on the positive contribution to society that each one of us can make through our work. It gives each of us the opportunity to put God at the forefront of our professional lives. We ask for God’s guidance in exercising our particular role in the legal profession – whether as a lawmaker, defender of rights, legal adviser, teacher or other - in a way that promotes justice and the common good. It is a very uplifting experience. In short, one can be close to God and be a good lawyer.” (JF) (Agenzia Fides 31/1/2011)