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26 May 2014 |
'Some of us would question Benedict's assertion that the Church "must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot ... replace the State." But we would all agree that the Church "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines".' Frank Brennan's presentation at the Jesuit Social Services Symposium on 'The role of faith based community organisations in contributing to a civil society'.
30 April 2014 |
In April the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld an earlier ruling that a youth camp run by the Christian Brethren had discriminated illegally against same-sex attracted persons by refusing a booking from a community health service for an event for young gay and lesbian people. This is not an isolated case. It is sobering that churches often seem to need the courts to give them lessons, if not about sex, then about hospitality and fairness.
23 April 2014 |
Quite striking is the similarity between the warm response to Pope John XXIII half a century ago and to Pope Francis today. Both broke through the gilded cage of outdated conventions and stereotyped expectations. Both stepped over barriers of ideology or religion to evoke bonds of a common humanity committed to promoting the wellbeing of all people, especially the poor and marginalised. The contexts were of course quite different.
21 April 2014 |
I write to defend Cardinal Pell in the wake of Elizabeth Farrelly's claim in the Fairfax press that Pell, when appearing before Justice McClellan at the Royal Commission, proposed a 'priestly child abuse insurance scheme'. Pell is not one of my fans, and neither am I one of his. But I think Farrelly has unfairly kicked him when he is down, and muddied the waters about what is a critical issue for the victims of child sexual abuse.
16 April 2014 |
Both the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter are exercises in memory. The Jewish child who asks why this day is remembered is told a story of slavery in Egypt followed by deliverance by God. He stands in line with other children who asked the same question during the Holocaust. The devaluation of history and memory has a deeply corrosive effect on society. In our society we can see this in our treatment of asylum seekers.
02 April 2014 |
It seems most Sydney Church leaders did not see Ellis primarily as a vulnerable person to whom they should reach out in compassion, but as a threat to the financial wellbeing of the Church. Even though it was recognised that he had been abused by a Catholic priest, the callous treatment he received was inspired by the desire to avoid large payouts. These leaders effectively accepted that human worth can be measured by economic price.
02 April 2014 |
In 2004, two years into the Sydney Archdiocese's botched handling of a sexual abuse complaint against Fr Aidan Duggan, the executive director of the Church's National Committee for Professional Standards did something extraordinary: he inquired into whether Duggan, prior to joining the Archdiocese in 1974, had form. It is the only evidence of a Church official actively attempting to check Duggan's past — an attempt destined to fail.
02 April 2014 |
Damage was done to the reputations of Pell's secretary Dr Michael Casey, and to the solicitors from the his chosen legal team Coors, who would have heard clearly the warning of Justice McClellan that saying they were following their client's instructions would be no defence. There is the damage done to the Australian Church as a whole, and, of course, the damge to Pell himself. This is not how he wanted his reign in Sydney to end.
26 March 2014 |
The South African experience suggests racial discrimination begins with the appropriation of wealth and power by one racial group and its consequent suppression of other groups in order to extend its wealth and power. If we are to address racial prejudice and discrimination we need to examine the way in which wealth and power are distributed and protected in society. In Australia, they are being concentrated increasingly in fewer hands.
20 March 2014 |
This week's inauguration of Twiggy Forrest's Global Freedom Network — a large-scale interfaith initiative to end slavery — publicly recognises the importance of interfaith collaboration as a means of understanding and addressing social issues. Its launch comes not long after an Australian-first interfaith forum about the issue of forced marriage. It included Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Jews, and discovered that forced marriage is not a Muslim issue.
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