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01 September 2016 |
Many Brazilians remember the 'Red Bishop' as much more than a defender of human rights. For these people, Helder Camara is included reverently in the litany of rogues who drew the ire of church and state authorities by demanding both do a better job of embodying a message of social justice. It was a powerful idea to grow up with: that this imposing and defining institution I had been born and baptised into contained a rebellious truth that often demanded we go against the institution's own grain.
31 August 2016 |
Dowling, who was a victim of clerical abuse, offers a program of reflections that bring together scriptural themes and the effects of sexual abuse. Most striking is the extraordinary labour required to purify the language of a tradition that has become polluted. This is vital not simply as a therapeutic exercise but as a condition for renewal and reconciliation. It may also be pertinent to wider society, where Brexit and the Trump phenomenon have been characterised by a coarsening of public language.
16 August 2016 |
Years ago someone defined repartee as, 'I say to you, "You're a bloody idiot", and you say back to me, "No, you're the bloody idiot".' It was then intended as a joke. Today it seems an accurate description of much public exchange, which is adversarial, leaves no room for qualification, and condemns anyone who does not endorse right-minded opinion. The most spectacular current instance of this is to be seen in the way in which those attracted to the cause of Trump or Clinton speak of their antagonists.
15 August 2016 |
The suggestion that those camps need to remain filled in order to send a message to people smugglers is not only morally unacceptable; it is strategically questionable. Those proven to be refugees should be resettled as quickly as practicable, and that includes taking up New Zealand's offer of 150 places a year - just as John Howard did when he accepted New Zealand's offer to take 131 from the Tampa. It's time to act. Ongoing inaction will send a green light to desperate people to do desperate things.
31 July 2016 |
Inspired by the person Ignatius, inspired by the person Jesus, we are motivated to make a difference; we are passionate to seek justice for all, especially the poor and the marginalised; we are convinced that we can find God in all things, even in the Don Dale Detention Centre; we know that all persons are called to a deep interior freedom, even those prison guards with hardened hearts; we are convinced that the law of the Lord teaches us right from wrong and that the ways of the Lord inspire us to do and proclaim what is right and to denounce what is wrong, especially when the wrong is done by the powerful upon the powerless.
28 July 2016 |
Wednesday night's ABC 7.30 program carried allegations against Cardinal George Pell which, if true, are devastating: life ruining for victims like Damian Dignan and Lyndon Monument; confronting for all citizens committed to the wellbeing of children; and earth shattering for Catholics who still have faith in their church. The report is also troubling for those of us concerned about due process and the rule of law - not as academic notions for lawyers but as the secure bulwarks of a society in which everyone's rights and interests are protected.
29 June 2016 |
During the campaign neither of the major parties addressed seriously the major challenges facing Australia: climate change, inequality and the forced movement of peoples. That makes it inevitable that following this election, sovereignty, mandates and other weighty words will continue to dominate public conversation. They usually function as political knives to cut through the messiness of our democratic order. But they also carry a theological weight that may illuminate our present condition.
18 May 2016 |
The bishops speak less trenchantly than Pope Francis, who criticises sharply the assumptions and practices of neoliberal economics. But in the context of this election, they add their voice to that of those who are concerned about economic assumptions that enrich the few and exempt corporations and business from social responsibility. Their statement will encourage those who see the now notorious behaviour of banks, finance business and corporations as symptomatic of a vicious economic ideology.
15 May 2016 |
Pope Francis is determined to highlight the opposition of Christian social thinking to the tenets of neoliberalism or market fundamentalism, an ideology which assumes that free markets of themselves will produce the best outcome, and which pushes aside considerations of social or distributive justice. It is unlikely Francis would be waving the flag of social justice so boldly on the world stage had Pope Leo XIII not written his famous social manifesto, Rerum Novarum, 125 years ago.
10 May 2016 |
Pope Francis may be interested in better situating women within Church governance and ministry, and there is sufficient theological evidence to readmit women to the order of deacon. Even so, significant curial roadblocks keep him from moving in the obvious direction. Women deacons could take up significant posts, at the Vatican and around the world, but in 2008 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decreed ordination of women a crime worthy of automatic excommunication.
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