Category Archives: Religion and Faith

PETER JOHNSTONE. An Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of Australia

Most Australian Catholics have long been aware that the structures of their Church are autocratic; most were brought up accepting that Church decision making is unaccountable and often secretive, that bishops are remote from their people in their decision making, … Continue reading

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ROB BRIAN. Easter Reflections

This is not an easy time to be a believing/practising Catholic. Indeed, many good people have given up on the Church because of the horrendous revelations of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests and religious and by the possibly … Continue reading

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MAUREEN BRIAN. Easter – Radical Awareness

In a recent ABC interview with Richard Glover and her co-author Monsignor Tony Doherty about their recently published book Attachments, Ailsa Piper presents us with the challenge to “become aware of the thing that comes at you”. Two chance encounters … Continue reading

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MASSIMO FAGGIOLI. Are US Catholics too American to stand up to Trump?

It also reveals a much more complex issue – the deep-seated fear of the state within American Catholicism and of the gap between US Catholicism and the global Catholic Church’s view on the state and of political authority. This creates a … Continue reading

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And Jesus said unto Paul of Ryan …

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times on March 16, 2017, writes about a ‘discussion’ between Jesus and Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Ryan claims that Catholicism has shaped his political views. Is Nicholas … Continue reading

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PATTY FAWKNER. The pattern of all life.

For 13 billion  years, since the Big Bang until now, death has been part of life. We know that, and as Christians we believe that death is the prelude to new life. We call it the Paschal Mystery. But what … Continue reading

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KIERAN TAPSELL. The Royal Commission, Religious Liberty and the Jehovah’s Witnesses

A more difficult issue is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ practice of “shunning” those who decide to leave the organisation as adults because of sexual abuse. It may be that the Commission is left with no other alternative but to condemn it … Continue reading

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ERIC HODGENS. Back to following The Way.

Power is still the Church’s stumbling block. Mind you, Jesus warned us: The gentiles lord it over their subjects – not so with you. The Church’s power to “lord it over” society has been curtailed by today’s pluralism but is … Continue reading

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KIERAN TAPSELL. A Response to Francis Sullivan

I agree with what Francis Sullivan has said in the edited version of his speech to Catalyst for Renewal. But there is a recitation of history in the full version that cannot go unchallenged.  

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JONATHAN PAGE.  Who Pays The Ferryman? Befriending Death.

The human experience is haunted by mortality. It is important to encourage deep discussion of the reality of our own individual death from an early age. The potential psycho-spiritual and behavioural benefits of this discussion are immense. 

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FRANCIS SULLIVAN. Where to from here?

I don’t think anyone was prepared for the extent of the abuse and the appalling rate across male religious orders and within the priesthood. The posturing and spin of years past has been seen for what is was – an … Continue reading

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ERIC HODGENS. The Catholic Dilemma.

Clerical privilege took a heavy blow when Catholic bishops were summoned to appear at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse (RC).  The             church answering to the state.  

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GEOFFREY ROBINSON. The Royal Commission.

I am convinced that there must be a full and open discussion of all aspects of the Church if we are ever to put this scandal behind us. Quite simply, we need a different church. The Royal Commission was not … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Failed Leadership in Church and State!

From my experience and observation good leadership is about creating disequilibrium and a process to galvanise the group to change. Without disequilibrium there will be no worthwhile change.  

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GARRY EASTMAN. Response to Jack Waterford: We need a Catholic Yom Kippur, and a serious sacrifice.

There are now no survivors or parents of survivors on the Commission nor are there any on the Australian Towards Healing or Melbourne Response agencies for handling complaints by victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The same criticism … Continue reading

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CHRIS GERAGHTY. Jesus and CFMEU

It’s not a time for business as usual. It’s a time for outbursts of horror, for open-throated cries for justice – a time for sackcloth and ashes, for fasting and floggings of repentance – a time to cease celebrating, singing, … Continue reading

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KIERAN TAPSELL. Vatican Reform on Child Sexual Abuse in Disarray – Does Pope Francis get it?

Zero tolerance in a professional context almost invariably means dismissal, but Pope Francis’s claim that the Church has a “zero tolerance” policy is not borne out by the figures he presented to the United Nations: only one quarter of all … Continue reading

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PAT POWER. The Royal Commission and the need for reform.

Despite all the warnings, I don’t know of anyone who has not been shocked by what has emerged from the Royal Commission. For twenty years or more, we have heard accounts of abuse, sometimes very close to home. But somehow … Continue reading

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FRANK BRENNAN SJ. The Catholic wrap-up at the Royal Commission.

But in the past, these spiritual leaders were also professing their commitment to an institution which commanded their hierarchical obedience and clerical acquiescence in protecting the institution’s public reputation and its coffers.  

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JOHN MENADUE. The Catholic bishops don’t understand their responsibility and accountability.

In any other walk of life or area of public administration, admission of criminal neglect would be a prelude to the tendering of resignations. The criminally negligent are not fit and proper persons to hold senior administrative responsibilities. Not so in … Continue reading

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BRIAN COYNE. The randomness and chanciness of life…

In this short essay, Brian Coyne, explores how much randomness and chance play in the outcomes we experience in life. He asks how much we are influenced by the Christian biblical mythology that an afterlife where the first will be … Continue reading

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ERIC HODGENS. The need for new Church Leadership.

While the Catholic population is increasing, active participation in parish life is steadily decreasing. This means that the pool of future lay leaders is steadily getting shallower. If this decline is to be reversed, now is the time to select … Continue reading

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PETER DAY. ‘The smell of the sheep’ (Pope Francis)

It should be noted that the intention of this reflection is not to play ‘the man’ (bishops, clerics), but rather ‘the ball’ (church governance, culture): to shine a light on a deeper and systemic illness that needs root and branch … Continue reading

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PETER JOHNSTONE. What sort of bishops do Catholics want?

Concerned Catholics who responded to a recent Catholics for Renewal online survey showed widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of their local diocese and parishes. Their dissatisfaction referred to current governance arrangements, the need for a stronger pastoral focus and … Continue reading

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CHRIS BONNOR. A trans-Tasman story out of school

The Gonski recommendations were our best chance to create something better, but it didn’t happen in the way the review envisaged. As one of the Gonski architects puts it, instead we are just on a path to nowhere.  

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FRANK BRENNAN SJ. The Catholic wrap-up at the Royal Commission

Last Monday, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commenced its three-week examination of the causes of child sexual abuse and cover up in the Catholic Church in Australia over the last 60 years. The statistics were … Continue reading

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KATHLEEN McPHILLIPS. Royal commission hearings show Catholic Church faces a massive reform task.

In research prepared for the Royal Commission, 7% of priests were identified as perpetrators. By far the worst offenders were in religious orders: for example, over 40% of John of God Brothers, 22% of Christian Brothers and 20% of Marist … Continue reading

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Catholic Church and the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“It would be easy to write the problems off as a few ‘bad apples’;  however, the problems that have brought the [Catholic] Church to the very edge of disaster and beyond, trashing its reputation as a moral leader, were never … Continue reading

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Local boy makes good!

Michael Kelly SJ, a regular correspondent for Pearls and Irritations, met with Pope Francis on February 9. In the photo below Pope Francis greets Father Michael Kelly SJ, executive director of ucanews.com on the occasion of receiving the English edition … Continue reading

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JAMES CARROL. Pope Francis is the anti-Trump.

Who would have thought that, on an elemental point of liberal democracy, the United States could take instruction from the white-robed man in Rome? And who would have thought that liberal democracy itself could have a stake in the unfinished … Continue reading

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