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24 July 2013 |
Robinson's recent book on the culture of the Catholic Church critiques the factors that have contributed to clerical sexual abuse of children. Robinson desires institutional changes, yet institutional changes are insufficient unless relationships and attitudes change. In this there is a happy conjunction between Robinson's project and the way of proceeding of Pope Francis.
17 July 2013 |
When policies affect people's lives, imaginative intelligence should come first into play. It is the inclination to see people, not simply as the objects of policy, but as persons each with their own face and life story. The Pope exemplified this when he visited Lampedusa, 'Italy's Christmas Island', to mourn the dead and console the living. And in so doing he stated the priority for others.
15 July 2013 |
The Church has taken some enormous steps towards making its ceremonial life more meaningful to Indigenous members. Frequently it has been women who have pioneered this work. But today many of these women in Central Australia, Arrernte and non-Arrernte alike, are ageing or becoming tired and jaded from lack of recognition.
14 July 2013 |
Sean Faircloth, a US director of one of the Dawkins Institutes committed to atheism, raised what has already become a hoary old chestnut, the failure of Francis when in Argentina during the Dirty Wars to adequately defend his fellow Jesuits who were detained and tortured by unscrupulous soldiers. Being a Jesuit, I thought I was peculiarly well situated to respond. I confess to having got a little carried away.
10 July 2013 |
One of the intriguing features of Pope Francis is the contrast between his earthy and free way with words and the laboured earnestness of those exploring his words for hidden meanings. It is like watching Martians deploy a bomb disposal unit to deal with the football a kid has kicked into their spaceship. The incongruity is humorous but it also points to a sclerosis in public conversations.
09 July 2013 |
In the tension between tradition and change, John Paul II is seen as an emblem of continuity, and Pope John XXIII as a symbol for radical change. In the decision to canonise both former popes, Francis has refocused continuity as a way of honouring different perspectives in the name of a greater common mission.
08 July 2013 |
Ramadan is supposed to fine tune your soul, weaken the ties binding you to your physical appetites and test your religiosity. This month unites Muslims around the globe in an envelope of piety and mercy. At least that's the theory. In reality, for most of us Muslims Ramadan is the month of massive weight gain.
26 June 2013 |
When Polish Jews were herded into the closed Warsaw Ghetto, Chaim Kaplan kept a diary to ensure that 'in our scroll of agony, not one small detail can be omitted'. This kind of remembering is both deeply personal and profoundly public, and invites us to celebrate human freedom. The remembering involved in the collection of information by the United States and Great Britain is of a quite different character.
16 June 2013 |
Sometimes events take on a significance beyond their historical context. That was the case with Gallipoli and the Eureka Stockade. It may also prove to be the case with the bodies left in the water after an asylum seeker boat sank, and the delay by the Australian authorities to take responsibility for their recovery.
12 June 2013 |
I met a young woman who had been sold as a domestic servant when she was five, and later on-sold for sex work in Bangkok, Malaysia and Australia. I also met a girl in a village of El Salvador: for generations her family had lived by making rope from cactus fibre. Her work contributed substantially to the family income and made her a valued member of her society.
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