Long-time Brisbane-based social justice advocate Peter Arndt has taken on a new role, last week commencing as director of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace.
Mr Arndt was the long-term executive officer of Brisbane Archdiocese’s Justice and Peace Commission. He says in his new role he will continue to advocate for those who live on the margins.
“Weaving its way through everything I hope to do in the Office is a desire to embed a mission focus in everything the Church does,” he said.
“I feel strongly that we need to be on the streets getting ‘bruised, hurting and dirty’ as the Pope said in Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel. We need to be on the margins and peripheries where people are facing hardship and injustice.
“God’s love needs to shine through in all we do to walk with marginalised people wherever they are, to support their efforts to throw off the shackles of injustice and oppression, and, importantly, to journey towards the liberation for ourselves that Christ promises.”
Mr Arndt said there is much to be learned from people on the peripheries of society.
“It’s not a one-way street by any means for me,” he said.
Mr Arndt, who is legally blind and is supported by Mac, a black Labrador, said supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been one of his priorities, along with advocating for the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers.
His work on ecological issues within and beyond the Church has been another key focus. Mr Arndt serves on the executive of the Queensland Conservation Council and he worked with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the development and promotion of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
He has also built a sense of solidarity with people in the Pacific, including in West Papua.
“There are significant human rights and ecological issues faced by our brothers and sisters in our region and I have tried to support them as they seek to have their voices heard,” he said, adding that next February’s meeting of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania “is a wonderful opportunity to build stronger relationships with the peoples of the Pacific and to support them”.
In addition to carrying forward those passions, Mr Arndt’s national role will see him take on responsibilities related to the annual Social Justice Statement and the outcomes of the Plenary Council relevant to the Office’s work.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, the chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, welcome Mr Arndt to the Bishops Conference.
“We are very pleased to welcome Peter into this new role serving the Church in Australia and continuing the legacy of the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace,” Bishop Long said.
“Peter is someone well known in the Church’s vibrant social justice network and highly respected for his many years of service advancing God’s mission in the world.
“I look forward to working with Peter, in partnership with the Commission and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, to support and enhance national collaboration in the areas of justice, ecology and peace.”