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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.

Community fear feeds Fox News Muslim bashing

01 August 2013 | Ruby Hamad

Lauren Green interviews Reza Aslan on Fox NewsThe now notorious Fox News interview in which host Lauren Green quizzes academic Reza Aslan as to why he, a Muslim, 'would be interested in the founder of Christianity', is mind-boggling in its casual persecution. A similar mistrust of Muslims is evident in Australia, as the Ed Husic debacle demonstrated. Even I, a non-practising Muslim at best, encounter hostility when I write on certain issues.

Pope's Catholic health check

31 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Apple and stethoscopeBoth Francis and Benedict emphasise Christian faith in the Catholic Church as the privileged way of finding meaning in life. But where Benedict might picture the Church as a treasury of all the beliefs, relationships, liturgical details and traditions, Francis might imagine it as like a dispensary from which health workers go out to share their life saving medicines.

Reshaping the Church with Bishop Robinson and Pope Francis

24 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Geoffrey Robinson's book 'For Christ's Sake' features that title superimposed over the image of a person in silhouette holding up a crossRobinson'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.

Pope Francis' three types of intelligence

17 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Diagram portrays the kinds of activities associated with each side of the brain, e.g. science and maths on one side, music and bike riding on the otherWhen 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.

Women pioneers of Aboriginal Catholicism

15 July 2013 | Mike Bowden

Aboriginal style dot painting in the shape of a crossThe 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.

Why I still love the Catholic Church

14 July 2013 | Frank Brennan

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.

Pope's lessons in boldness for Australian politicians

10 July 2013 | Andrew Hamilton

Man with padlock in lipsOne 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.

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