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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.
08 February 2017 |
It is good news that Pope Francis has appointed a commission to revisit Liturgiam Authenticam. This Vatican document, issued on 28 March 2001, provided the unfortunate guidelines that 'justified' the ugly, Latinised translation foisted on English-speaking Catholics by the 2010 Missal. I sincerely hope that Francis' commission will not merely revisit the document but strongly press for its repeal. The road will then be open to revisit the clumsy, difficult 2010 Missal and replace it.
07 February 2017 |
The inflated image I once had of Cardinal Ratzinger, and that many Catholics have of cardinals and other authority figures, was shaped by fear. Fear hands over to the human beings behind the image a power they do not possess. Conversations always turn to them and inhibit the free and constructive living of faith. In helping to demystify such images Last Testament, the autobiography (written with Peter Seewald) of Pope Benedict XVI, serves us well.
06 February 2017 |
Sister Barbara taught me in my fifth and sixth years. She had a large multi-grade class, yet she found time to realise I wasn't 'a bit slow' but was actually half-blind, partially deaf and bored witless. She ensured I was placed close to the front where I could hear, and arranged my first eye examination. Sister Barbara also sent away for high school English books just for me and that year this supposedly 'slow' child came first in class. These acts changed the course of my life.
05 February 2017 |
Listening to the media and our church leaders in recent days, we know that there is plenty of darkness ahead for our Church in the weeks ahead with the Royal Commission's so-called 'Catholic wrap-up'. We're told that the statistics will be terrible and we expect that some of our church leaders will appear, looking stunned and helpless. This morning, I think we need to reflect on these stark realities in the light of the scriptures. And this can be done only by holding the victims clearly in focus.
13 December 2016 |
Some of my South Asian 'aunties' are very much opposed to wearing any religious head covering. Mum has only recently started wearing a tiny Egyptian number she picked up during her last Haj. Like many South Asians, she has become a bit more religiously observant as she gets older. She grew up in the Indian university town of Aligarh, some 140km South East of Delhi. Aligarh was a very conservative town, and her father, a professor at the local university, was a rather conservative chap.
04 December 2016 |
One distinctively Catholic practice is personal confession in which an individual confesses to God their sins and seeks forgiveness in the presence of and at the hands of a priest. Some groups and individuals are proposing to the royal commission that the seal of the confessional no longer be inviolable. I was quoted in The Australian saying, 'If a law is introduced to say that a priest should reveal a confession, I'm one of those priests who will disobey the law.' Being also a lawyer, let me explain.
29 November 2016 |
One of the weaknesses in our society is its lack of effective regulations governing the marketing and availability of alcohol. A second is the ready availability of pornography, as many young men learn how to behave towards women from sadistic and explicit pornography. In the case of the lack of restrictions on the availability of both, churches concerned to respond to domestic violence will need to meet the libertarian objections to regulating profitable business and individual behaviour.
23 November 2016 |
All the way to Mass is Mass, says my wife. I know what she means. Walking along the wooded shore of the lake, through the halls of ash and maple trees, past the cedars and firs ... past the blackberry bushes and the burbling kindergarten and the redolent bakery and the cheerful bank tellers who wave ... is such a walk not a celebration of miracle, a witnessing of grace, a reminder that the quotidian is deeply holy in every detail did we only attend closely enough to see His mark?
22 November 2016 |
Four cardinals wrote to the Pope demanding yes or no answers as to whether his reflection Amoris Laetitia was faithful to Catholic tradition in its treatment of the reception by divorced Catholics of communion. On not receiving a reply they published their letter, and one followed it up with murmurs about impeachment. The incident prompts reflection on the propriety of cardinals questioning a pope in this way and the reasons why discussion of communion for the divorced should raise such passion.
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