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Is the pope a Marxist?

16 December 2013 | Neil Ormerod

Hammer and sicklePope Francis' vision for the church of the poor is now joined to a stinging critique of our globalised economy which promotes a 'new tyranny' of unfettered capitalism and an attack on the 'idolatry of money'. While such language has not been uncommon, buried in the riches of Catholic social teaching, this pope has made it up front and centre stage of his message.

Restorative justice beyond the Royal Commission

10 December 2013 | Jane Anderson

Child Abuse Royal Commission wallplateLast week I went to the Royal Commission and had a private session, which means, in short, that I am a victim of sexual abuse. That history spanned nearly three decades. My encounters with one perpetrator prepared me for more harrowing experiences during adolescence, and later in a marriage that turned violent. While I commend the Royal Commission process for its sensitivity and professionalism, I would like to offer some alternative thinking.

Sweet and sour in Pope's exhortation

04 December 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

The cover of an English Language publication of 'Evangelii Gaudium' features a smiling Pope in mid-sentence behind a lecternTo my knowledge this is the first church document that refers to 'sourpusses'. It must be the first lengthy papal document for some time, too, that refers to the Magisterium only twice in passing. Nor does Pope Francis refer explicitly to clerical sexual abuse. Francis is not interested in radical institutional or doctrinal change but wants to help a dysfunctional church work better at compassionately communicating God's love.

Do sex offenders deserve dignity?

03 December 2013 | Peter Kirkwood

Pope's vision for a bruised and dirty Church

01 December 2013 | Frank Brennan

How refreshing to have a pope write: 'It is not advisable for the pope to take the place of local bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound 'decentralisation'.' Vatican monsignori in long flowing robes will be troubled to hear him say, 'mere administration can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be permanently in a state of mission.'

Churches fight for economic justice

28 November 2013 | Brian Lawrence

Giant foot about to crush a small person as they attempt to escapeIn his recent address to the Yarra Institute about Christian social thinking, Fr Frank Brennan expressed the view that 'Christian churches are all but absent from the economic debate other than making the occasional, predictable utterance about ensuring that no one is left worse off as the result of new policy measures'. This seriously understates the public advocacy of the Australian churches and does a disservice to many people and organisations.

Knowing the unknowns of clerical sexual misconduct

26 November 2013 | Stephen de Weger

In 'The Agony in the Garden' by William Blake a majestic angel breaks through the surrounding darkness and descends from a cloud to aid and physically support Jesus in his hour of agony.Is there an agony in the garden of Catholicism which has yet to be faced — the dark figure of clerical sexual misconduct involving adults? From my research into this issue, two aspects have become quickly apparent: that it is a 'known unknown' within Catholic life, and that it is a very complex issue. That it occurs is not in doubt. More often than not, the victim is blamed.

No copping out of abuse blame

25 November 2013 | Frank Brennan

Police Victoria badgeThe Catholic Church hierarchy now seems more prepared to admit institutional and personal failures prior to 1996. They are yet to admit the pervasive, closed clericalist culture which infected the Church until at least 1996, but that will come. Let's hope that the Victorian police can also now move forward admitting past mistakes without manufacturing excuses which do not withstand the contemporary spotlight.

Heed the voice of the wounded child

14 November 2013 | Moira Rayner

Young girl, sad face, head bowedIf it happened then, it could happen now. Unless we take children seriously as people, it will. Unless individuals within the culture of their institution see it as a duty to stick their necks out and challenge its culture, it will. Unless bishops and archbishops and cardinals and religious supporting them take personal responsibility for protecting vulnerable people ahead of protecting the reputation of their institution, it will happen again.

Church's family reality check

13 November 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Lesbian mothers sit with a young child (illustration)In a welcome first step, the Vatican has invited lay Catholics to offer their views on the family. The document that accompanies the survey represents a fairly traditional Catholic theology of the family, setting it within a high theology and expressed in elevated language. This theology has been developed principally by celibate men, no doubt familiar with family life through their childhood and pastoral ministry, but at a distance from it.

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