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Cardinal Pell, his lawyers and the Royal Commission

23 November 2015 | Frank Brennan

Cardinal Pell before the Royal Commission in March 2014Last week the Herald Sun reported: 'Victims of child sexual abuse look set to be grilled by lawyers for Pell in a bid to quash explosive allegations he was complicit in a widespread cover-up.' As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommences its case study on the Catholic Church in Ballarat, it's only fair Pell have his lawyers cross examine these victims. His reputation is on the line and the commission has spared no effort in scrutinising his past actions.

Family Synod neglects feminine genius

28 October 2015 | Beth Doherty

Camila Leiva MartinezWe can assume that despite the recent Synod's focus on families, most of the voters have never had any involvement in raising families, and certainly not of experiencing pregnancy and childbirth. None have directly dealt with an abusive spouse, struggled to regulate family size, questioned whether to stay in an unhappy marriage, or dealt with a child identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender. Last year, I spent time working in a parish in Paraguay, where, unlike the church more broadly, women run the show.

Betting on the Synod

28 October 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Claud CockburnThe journalist Claud Cockburn once said that Catholics could never bet on the election of a pope because they believed it was all up to the Holy Spirit. He was mistaken — many Catholics then and now would place a bet on anything and everything. His reasoning also overlooked the Catholic understanding that human beings cooperate with the Holy Spirit. But his association of God's action with the election and actions of popes provides a lens for looking at the recently concluded Synod on the Family.

No room for culture warriors in Canberra or the Vatican

14 October 2015 | Michael McVeigh

Tony Abbott's 1987 essay in the BulletinMany in the Church would echo Tony Abbott's feelings on the dangers a theological environment 'at war with itself' presents to its moral authority. Similarly, there are many conservative politicians and members of the press who look at the current political commentary — marked by discussion rather than authority — and wonder what a government can accomplish in such an environment. Not surprisingly, Cardinal George Pell — described by Abbott as a 'fine human being and a great churchman' — is among those pushing back against the dialogue at the current Synod on the Family.

Third World issues illuminate Synod's first world problems

28 September 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Gathering of bishopsAlthough important to respond to generously, divorced and homosexual Catholics will not be the only people who make a claim on the Synod on the Family in Rome, with bishops of the Third World to want a focus on the life and death issues that face families in their region. But divorced and homosexual Catholics are important, and the divisions between bishops are both real, and generally misread by the media.

Religion in the state school curriculum

30 August 2015 | Kevin Donnelly

Jewish candles Various state based legislation argues that education in government schools should be secular in nature, but it does not rule out a place for religion in the general curriculum. To argue that religions should have a greater place in the school curriculum is not to proselytise. Rather it is to recognise that, while we are a secular society,  students need to encounter a more transcendent sense of life that incorporates a strong moral, spiritual and ethical dimension.

The nun who couldn't say no

11 August 2015 | Philomena van Rijswijk

Nun prayingOur family life was fraught with conflict, centred on our parents' inability to cope with my father's serious mental illness. During the early years of her childhood, my sister was made my mother's intimate confidante. This was a time of anguish for Mum, about both her marriage and a series of tragic miscarriages. My sister left home when she was 14, and entered the juniorate on the way to becoming a nun.

Encyclical's groundbreaking critique of technology

14 July 2015 | Paul Collins

Cover of Guardini's 'The End of the Modern World'While Francis has no time for technological solutions and 'fixes' for complex ecological problems, he is no techo-Luddite. What he does is link technological knowledge to power and says that those with this knowledge and the economic resources to use it, gain 'an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world.'

Coal warriors targeting Pope Francis

14 July 2015 | Neil Ormerod

Cover of Laudato SiIt is not surprising that The Australian should be leading the local pushback on the environmental encyclical Laudato Si'. What is surprising is that a Catholic priest - Fr James Grant - should be joining the chorus against the encyclical, initially in an IPA media release. His more recent contribution to The Australian is right out of the briefing notes supplied by the coal industry in its global public relations efforts to shore up its waning reputation. 

'The Australian' gangs up on Pope Francis

09 July 2015 | Bruce Duncan

'Green-left Pope Francis endorses flawed view of progress' op-edIn a series of articles, The Australian newspaper has strongly criticised the new encyclical Laudato Si', with editor-at-large Paul Kelly charging that the Pope has 'delegitimised as immoral' pro-market economic forces. This is wrong. Pope Francis is not opposed to the free market in principle, but insists that it be well regulated to ensure social justice for all involved.

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