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Scott Morrison and the power of negative branding

23 October 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

The word 'brand' applies by a branding ironSuppose the media, shocked by the cavalier approach to politicians who claim allowances for travel and other perks, unanimously decided henceforth always to refer to our parliamentary representatives not as Members and Ministers, but as Rorters and Archrorters. The stigma that such branding would attach to political life would be reflected in a diminishment of the high level of trust in which they are currently held by the Australian public.

Costello the great Jesuit teacher

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20 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'With Em, we were only one handshake away from the great movers, shakers and events in the Church and the world. Those of us who lived with him were used to history lessons at breakfast when we would be schooled in the shortcomings of the popes, the modest breeding of papal nuncios, and the march of folly of great world leaders.' Frank Brennan's homily for the late Fr Emmet P. Costello SJ, St Mary's North Sydney, 21 October 2013.

Ways of knowing people in poverty

16 October 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Homeless man and woman sit together, beggingThe proper starting point for reflecting on poverty must be the lives of people who are poor. Like other human beings, people who live in poverty are defined by their relationships with family, friends, to home, to food and shelter, neighbourhood, to school, to work, to play and to society. Their poverty limits their opportunity to build these relationships.

Catholics' radical alternative

09 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'When confronted with moral evil in public policy, church personnel have a choice: to be prophetic sticking to the moral absolutes, or to be practical engaging in the compromises needed to temper the evil. At the moment, the only political parties not wanting to embrace a short term shock and awe approach are the Greens, the DLP and the Palmer United Party. And neither Christine Milne, John Madigan nor Clive Palmer will ever be prime minister.' Workshop paper from Catholic Social Services Victoria's Listening, Learning and Leading conference, October 2013.

Laughing at Islam

09 October 2013 | Irfan Yusuf

Legally BrownTax consultant turned satirist and comic Nazeem Hussain's SBS series Legally Brown does more than just poke fun. Perhaps the most effective and most difficult ways to tackle prejudice and fear is to laugh at it. Chris Kenny's objections in The Australian that Hussain's appearance on Q&A was 'highly disturbing and dangerous' and 'an apologia for terrorism' show that Hussain and his fans continue to have plenty to laugh about.

Suicide silence and stigma

02 October 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Glass of alcohol beside blank notepadIn Rome and in Christian times people who took their own lives were buried outside the communal graveyards and without the prayers that farewelled the dead of the community. The symbolism was clear. They had separated themselves from society and its shared life; now society separated itself from them. And by implication it also marginalised those closely associated with suicide. Has much changed?

Has the Catholic Church in Australia any credibility left?

02 October 2013 | Frank Brennan

'What a pope; what a man! ... The credibility of the Catholic Church has been enhanced with this new pope. We see in him many of the finest aspects of the presently battered and ageing Church.' Frank Brennan's presentation for Spirituality in the Pub, Pumphouse Hotel, Fitzroy, Vic. on 2 October 2013.

Cardinals meeting consultative Pope

30 September 2013 | Brian Lucas

Pope Francis listening, thoughtfulAs a specially selected group of cardinals prepares to meet with Pope Francis, there is eagerness among the world's press for access to the meeting and clear expectations of radical shifts in church policy. Some have tried to hose such hopes down. Yet the cardinals have a unique opportunity and a serious responsibility to help Francis understand what the people of God are thinking and expecting.

Judging and fudging Pope Francis

23 September 2013 | Fatima Measham

Pope Francis meme 'Who am I to judge?Ever since Pope Francis stepped onto a balcony at St Peter's Basilica, his words have been abbreviated, deconstructed and turned into memes. The attention paid to last week's interview with the Pope, conducted on behalf of by major Jesuit journals worldwide, suggests that the Roman pontiff is still held relevant, even by those who regard religious institutions as anachronistic.

Advice for the Pope on reforming the Church

23 September 2013 | Geraldine Doogue

'Geraldine and Francis', by Chris Johnston. Geraldine Doogue whispers advice to Pope FrancisI wish he would invite me to be his temporary consultant, to offer him advice for his next 500 days. I'd begin by proposing a substantial Vatican-led inquiry, into why the Church has been so troubled by sexual abuse across various countries. Then I would point to the experiences of several large secular institutions, including the New York Times and US Army, that have rebuilt after crises.

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