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Elusive Easter's challenge to wider society

23 March 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Etching of Jesus with crossTo many the challenge to endurance comes from a public world in which small gains are overtaken by huge losses. Why bother about people who seek protection from persecution or about our natural environment when the small initiatives we take are overrun by a flood tide of brutality and cynicism? What hope of building harmony in society when the Paris bombings are followed by those of Brussels? This challenge is universal, so the Christian celebration of Easter is of wider interest.

Religious thought in sacred secular Australia

21 March 2016 | Frank Brennan

Wayne Hudson's Australian Religious ThoughtI offer no public judgment of Pell, and unlike many other commentators I'll await the findings of the royal commission. I have however been outspoken about his right to a fair hearing and natural justice, not because I am a priest but because I am a human rights lawyer who cares about the universal application of the rule of law. It is when a representative of institutional religion like Pell taps into the generic religious sensibility or moral consciousness that the real work of Australian religious thought is done.

Cardinal Pell and the culture of silence

09 March 2016 | Neil Ormerod

Young PellEven as a young priest George Pell was marked for higher things. He was a protege of B. A. Santamaria who had a significant following among Victorian bishops and priests. He was chosen to go to further study in Rome and then in Oxford. He was quickly given positions of responsibility. Within this trajectory there was no room for a priest who rocked the boat on clerical misconduct. To ask questions about why Ridsdale was being constantly moved was evidently not part of the plan.

Year of Mercy's opportunity for Aboriginal reconciliation

06 March 2016 | Frank Brennan

'On his last two visits to Latin America, Pope Francis has focused on past and present relationships between indigenous peoples and their colonisers. This Jubilee Year of Mercy perhaps it could be a blessed moment for Aboriginal Australians and descendants of their colonisers to walk together through the Door of Mercy at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, calling to mind the sins and endeavours of the past, the achievements and commitments of the present, and the hopes and aspirations of the future.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Lenten Talk, Norwood Parish, 3 March 2016

Liberation theology in modern Australia

24 February 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Revolutionary JesusLiberation theology was once caricatured as Marxism with a Christian tinge, or the Bible plus Kalashnikov. In fact, thinkers identified with the movement were involved in a serious theological exploration. In public conversation in Australia the theological questions ut it raised are of marginal significance. But secular variants abound in which society is analysed in terms of the discrimination suffered by various minority groups at the hands of the majority or of those with power.

An unholy mess

22 February 2016 | Frank Brennan

George PellMcClellan and his fellow commissioners on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have a daunting task in the next fortnight, according due process and natural justice to a high profile witness on the other side of the world who has been publicly labeled 'scum', 'buffoon' and a 'coward', being the subject of unauthorised leaks about uninvestigated complaints from a police service which itself is under scrutiny for its past cooperation with the witness and his Church.

The problem with heroes

15 February 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Heroes of the Faith edited by Roland AshbyPeriods of anxiety are times for dreaming of heroes. We contemplate our own pedestrian lives and pedestrian politicians, and long for someone who can lead us out of the wilderness into the promised land. Yet although heroes invite us to dismount from our couches, breathe the open air and take on the world as they do, they also persuade us that they are a different breed, urging us to keep within our divinely given limitations and leave the business of change to those sown as lions' teeth.

Meeting Pope Francis

24 January 2016 | Frank Brennan

Frank Brennan presents Pope Francis with a bottle of Sevenhill wineHailing from Argentina, Francis puts his trust neither in ideological Communism nor in unbridled capitalism. We need to enhance international security, building the rule of law within multilateral organisations, and fostering the climate for investment sensitive to the triple bottom line - economic, social and environmental. I return from Rome grateful that we have a pope prepared to open these questions, accompanied by senior prelates happy to mix it with business and community leaders.

Corrupt churches need women leaders

13 December 2015 | Moira Rayner

Dr Kathleen McChesney with Truth, Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis SullivanThere is a culture of brotherhood in the upper echelons of the Church. There is also a natural urge to homosocial reproduction in its instrumentalities. If I have learned anything from my work with companies and organisations on cultural change, it is that these comfortable cultures need to be broken up, because they are readily corrupted. The best way to change a culture is to start giving women positions of real influence and respect. They are outsiders, and outsiders see what insiders cannot.

Free speech and the plebiscite on same sex marriage

10 December 2015 | Frank Brennan

Archbishop Dennis HartChris Puplick, a former senator and former president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, is one of a rising chorus expressing strong objections to the Australian Catholic bishops daring to evangelise and speak publicly about their views on same sex marriage. I too would be very upset if my bishops were saying, as Puplick claimed in an opinion piece in The Australian, that homosexuals are 'seriously depraved, intrinsically disordered, less than whole and messing with kids'. But they're not.

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