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11 April 2016 |
By the standards of papal documents Amoris Laetitia is a baggy elephant. Many in the developed world hoped the document would break new ground in allowing communion to the divorced and adopting new attitudes to gay marriage and gender issues. They will be disappointed that it works within traditional definitions of marriage, gender and discipline. But Francis' insistence on going out to people where they are with full respect for who they are demands an even more radical change of heart.
11 April 2016 |
As Pope Francis was releasing his long-awaited response to last year's Synod on the Family, my fiancé and I were taking part in a marriage preparation course, where we were told: 'Statistics tell us that one in three of your marriages will end in divorce ... while only a third of you will have a happy marriage.' If love is a type of craftsmanship, as Francis writes, then our hope is that day to day, with small and large acts of love, we can help each other become masters of our craft.
10 April 2016 |
As Francis begins his fourth year in office, questions are raised as to whether the changes he has brought to the church will last beyond his time in office. Some argue that because he has made no significant changes in governance, his changes will not survive him. His successors and the Curia will be free to restore former expressions of church life. This argument highlights the need to embody vision in institutional structures. But good structures alone do not ensure the continuation of vision.
06 April 2016 |
How do good people sink to this? The answer lies in the mutation of economic ideology from the crude buccaneering spirit of doing whatever it takes to get rich into a more urbane form. People see themselves as competing, not only for their own economic benefit, but for that of the company. This means greed can mask itself as altruism in serving a larger good. And as in the case of churches, identification with the company provides reason for protecting the company's reputation at all costs.
23 March 2016 |
To 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.
21 March 2016 |
I 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.
09 March 2016 |
Even 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.
06 March 2016 |
'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
24 February 2016 |
Liberation 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.
22 February 2016 |
McClellan 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.
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