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15 March 2017 |
My grandfather told me Patrick was a saint because he drove the frogs and snakes out of Ireland. He also told me if I stepped in a fairy ring while we were on our walks I'd disappear forever. So naturally as I grew older, I became skeptical. Each year in my family St Patrick's Day has marked a survival of Irish culture in Australia. Sometimes this can be in subtle ways and sometimes it means singing at the top of our lungs, enjoying a drink and having a dance.
13 March 2017 |
The debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (18C) has gone on for far too long. It's time to bring it to a close. To date, I have been silent in the present debate, in part because I was a critic of such legal provisions when they were first proposed in 1992 and again in 1994. I have since been convinced that a provision like 18C could be designed to target racial vilification, leaving offensive insults beyond the reach of the law in a robust democracy committed to freedom of speech.
08 March 2017 |
We often find ourselves invited to respond to people who ask us for money on the street - beggars, homeless people and so on. We can respond in different ways: give them something, decline as a matter of course, decline as a matter of principle, or not notice them. Last week Pope Francis recommended that we always give coins. To many this will seem to be too categorical. However as has so often been the case, Francis' throwaway lines illuminate much larger social issues.
05 March 2017 |
Speaking of reform in the church can mean many things. Often it's about practical matters: sorting out the Vatican Bank, changing how bishops are chosen or clergy trained; that sort of thing. Occasionally, however, reform is about seeking real religious change. Martin Luther, I want to suggest, is one of those reformers who was not concerned with tinkering with structures of the church but with reforming the Christian message so that it might reform the believer.
28 February 2017 |
Make no mistake, our church leaders are not yet out of the blaze of the headlights. They don't have all the answers, not even in relation to matters peculiarly within their jurisdiction. Despite being put on notice, our most senior bishops could not even agree on the limits of the seal of the confessional and on what a priest should do if abuse were reported in the confessional by a child. It's not just our past leaders who needed help. Our present leaders also do.
23 February 2017 |
Once upon a time, a proud dad in Dandenong could name his son Jihad, with its ancient meaning of 'striving' in the path of God. Now he might choose a different name to avoid future discrimination. 'Shari'a' has come to mean the forced imposition of medieval punishments on cowering populations, while 'halal' is the torture of sheep and cows. These words have been stolen from ordinary Muslims, the vast majority of the world's second largest religion. I blame three groups for this.
21 February 2017 |
The most thought provoking testimony given during the Royal Commission's Catholic 'wrap up' was that by Vincent Long, Bishop of Parramatta. It was notable for its directness, honesty and the awareness it displayed of the importance of church culture. Bishop Long grew up in the Vietnamese Catholic Church and was afterwards chosen to lead the Australian Church. In his responses he focused particularly on clericalism and its role in giving license and cover to clerical abuse.
16 February 2017 |
The commission's forensic scrutiny of past actions of church officials in no way constitutes an interference with the freedom of religion. Its spotlight is to be welcomed, provided only that it is shone on a truly representative sample of all institutions which have been found wanting and provided the same light filter is applied to all institutions. I do however have a problem with the commission making findings on issues like the want of compassion when those findings are made only against a Church.
15 February 2017 |
Stephen de Weger
Three years ago I began my research Masters into clerical sexual misconduct involving adults (CSMIA). I have now completed that study. It revealed highly relevant and crucial information towards the understanding of CSMIA. One conclusion based on my and other studies is that three major aspects need to be included in any discussion of CSMIA, in order to reach a fuller understanding of how CSMIA is able to occur, how it is interpreted, how it affects people's lives, and how it is dealt with.
12 February 2017 |
Last Monday, the Royal Commission commenced its three-week forensic examination of the causes of child sexual abuse and cover up in the Catholic Church in Australia over the last 60 years. The statistics were horrifying. Every case represented a person who claims as a child to have been abused by a person of authority in a Catholic institution. Whichever way the statistics are interpreted in comparison with other institutions, they are appalling. We need to hold the victims clearly in focus.
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