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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.

The Pope who put a spring in our step

19 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

Pope Francis smiling, thumbs-upFasten your seat belts. We are in for an exciting ride with this Pope. He's happy to make mistakes. He's happy to go with the flow. But above all, he is so happy in his own skin and in his religious tradition that he exudes the confidence that comes only from knowing that he is loved and forgiven, and not from thinking that he is always right and has all the answers.

Storm proof: good news for all seasons

19 September 2013 | Clare Boyd-Macrae

Times are no more stormy now than they have ever been. And yet there is a different quality to our storms than there has been in the past. Two things contribute to this. First: it is now a reality, even a likelihood, that we will destroy our planet. Second: we no longer have an assumed, central narrative that informs and inspires us.

Church-state issues and the Royal Commission

03 September 2013 | Frank Brennan

'The Towards Healing protocol is not a substitute for criminal prosecution of sex abusers. Nor is it a cheap alternative to civil liability for damages. It is a procedure available by choice to victims in addition to criminal prosecution of perpetrators or pursuit of civil damages for negligence by church authorities.' Full text from Frank Brennan's address to the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand 47th Annual Conference, 4 September 2013 at Hotel Grand Chancellor Adelaide on Hindley.

Irrational fear of the Muslim Brotherhood

20 August 2013 | Irfan Yusuf

Muslim Brotherhood

It’s a crude and misleading line of reasoning to declare that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood can’t be committed to democracy because it is an Islamist organisation much like al-Qaida and Hezbollah. On what basis do we label individuals or groups 'Islamist'? Or 'fundamentalist'? Or 'extremist'? How can we have a monolith amongst a set of congregations making up almost one quarter of the world's human population? The history and politics of Islam is just as complex as that of Christianity.

Show some respect when talking with homosexuals

18 August 2013 | Frank Brennan

During part of the conversation that was recorded by SBS but not aired, I told Penny Wong I thought her homosexuality was as natural, complex and mystical as my heterosexuality. It is time we dropped the unhelpful, judgmental language of intrinsic and objective disorder when respectfully trying to determine appropriate laws and policies for all people who want to support and nurture each other and their children.

When mines and football clubs betray the common good

07 August 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Red and black starburstThe common good can seem a very milky-tea concept — too bloodless for the real world. But it is an important idea, one which we need if we are to make sense of phenomena as disparate as the findings on corruption in the awarding of mining licenses in NSW, the initial report of the NSW chief scientist on coal seam gas mining, and the daily excursions in the drugs and footballers epic.

Pilgrims walk with shadow of Church abuse

06 August 2013 | Ailsa Piper

Shadows cast by pilgrims on the Camino MozárabeHis casual tone didn't seem to fit the words I was translating from Spanish. I questioned him. Eight? Yes, eight. Every night? Every night. Finally I could no longer deny what I was hearing. Decades earlier, my amigo's then eight-year-old brother had been abused by a religious man of the cloth. My amigo was here walking the Camino Mozárabe in memory of that brother, who eventually had committed suicide.

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