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Anzac Day and just war scepticism go together

24 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Australian Soliders marchThe classical arguments originated at a time when casualties were suffered mostly by soldiers. In modern warfare, civilians overwhelmingly suffer. Just war theory is used as spin to give specious justification to military campaigns in whose devising ethical considerations played no part. Wars that governments wage are just; those waged by their enemies are unjust. By joining in such debate churches are co-opted into playing an intellectual game designed to make legitimate killing and destruction.

Neerkol orphanage findings and the place of compassion

21 April 2016 | Frank Brennan

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now published its Case Study 26 on the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton. It finds that the response by the bishop and by the Sisters of Mercy to victims making complaints prior to 1996 was often inadequate and lacking in compassion. The word 'compassion' or 'compassionate' appears 21 times in the report. I have no problem with church people or other individuals adversely judging church leaders for a lack of compassion. There may even be a case for politicians doing it. But I don't think it's the job of a royal commission.

Crossing boundaries with the wire-cutter Pope

18 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Francis on LesbosLesbos is famous for crossing boundaries. It was the home of the poet Sappho and the tender, delicate lyrics dedicated to the woman who was her lover. More recently it has been the home of refugees who have crossed from the murderous conflict in Asia. Pope Francis is also as famous for crossing boundaries as we Australians are for patrolling them. He is reinventing the papacy as a one-man barbed-wire-cutting team. So it is not surprising he decided at short notice to cross into Lesbos.

Pope promotes radical tenderness

11 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Francis greets familyBy 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.

Pope's tips for building a marriage

11 April 2016 | Michael McVeigh

Happy coupleAs 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.

Life beyond Pope Francis

10 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Pope FrancisAs 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.

Companies' bastardry about more than bad apples

06 April 2016 | Andrew Hamilton

Businessman opens suit to reveal money hidden insideHow 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.

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.

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