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The Vatican's Francis Revolution gains pace

10 November 2014 | Paul Collins

Archbishop Paul GallagherAn important power shift occurred in Rome at the weekend, and it has a genuine Australian connection. The nuncio in Canberra Archbishop Paul Gallagher was named Secretary for Relations with States, which will put him third in charge at the Vatican. He has been popular here because he has kept in touch with pastoral life, having volunteered to help out in the far-flung western NSW of Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes during his first Easter in Australia.

Constitutionally Australia is a religious country

02 November 2014 | Kevin Donnelly

Constitution of Australia Unlike France, Australia's Constitution specifically accepts the place of religion in the broader society, with its reference to Almighty God in the Preamble. Its only stipulation is that governments should not privilege one religion over another, or unfairly discriminate. Moreover, our legal system and institutions might be secular in nature, but they draw heavily on Christian ethics and morality.

Pope warns punishment is not a way to peace

26 October 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

Pope FrancisPope Francis warns perceptively that the urge to create peace by punishment leads to the search for more targets. The best way to peace and security is not to wage war on people but to be curious about them – what leads them to criminal acts, and how we can intervene to help them make good connections with society.

Buddhism's challenge to Christian churches

26 October 2014 | Jenny Stewart

Christianity is a warm, people-centred faith. Buddhism is cool and cerebral. Christianity offers narrative and prophecy of human failing and human glory. The Buddhist sutras are impenetrable discourses on the absolute. Yet Christianity in Australia seems to be fading.

Catholic Church returns to pluriformity of Vatican II

19 October 2014 | Neil Ormerod

Session at Synod on the FamilyConservative elements were quick to criticise the interim 'relatio' of the Synod that opened the door to gay and other estranged Catholics. Undoubtedly there will be pushback, but the Catholic Church is going through something not experienced since Vatican II – a Church willing to debate topics once felt long settled, without fear or favour.

National Curriculum a step forward

15 October 2014 | Chris Middleton

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has supported a national curriculum, while some observers have cautioned that it is not the panacea for improving educational standards that many may hope for. The Federal Review report released in the past week addresses many of the concerns, and on the whole their recommendations seem appropriate and constructive.  

Iraq intervention meets just war conditions

14 October 2014 | Chris Middleton

Crucifixion victimThe theory of just war has evolved as a way of laying out the conditions under which a war may be justified morally. The case against ISIS in terms of it being an aggressive force inflicting lasting, grave and certain damage is compelling. Millions of Iraqis and Syrians have been displaced and there is widespread hunger.

A conundrum for Pope Francis

13 October 2014 | Paul Collins

Synod audienceMelbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart told Vatican Radio that the Bishops currently attending the Synod on the Family in Rome 'want to engage with people and see the needs of families ...  The bishops have been emphasising that we are pastors'. This emphasis indicates Pope Francis' challenge when he asks the bishops to assume the level of leadership necessary to act collegially with him.

Catholic press struggles to earn trust

06 October 2014 | Tim Wallace

The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church has affected mass attendance and contributions to the collection plate. The credibility of its newspapers has also taken a hit, with coverage of the crisis generally following the official line. The publications must  appease both their clerical owners and their supporters, the readers, whose trust needs to be earned and maintained.

Ian Paisley's no middle ground

21 September 2014 | Frank O'Shea

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness

Somehow Paisley and McGuinness worked well together. The Chuckle Brothers they were called, an attempt to present them as two buffoons out of their depth. But for ordinary people, it was an endearing image, a tribute to a pair who had brought their respective sides with them in an unlikely peace. 

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