"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit – not brute strength but glorious inner strength – that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's
love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God." [Ephesians 3:14-19.Translation from The Message – The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson.]

News

Australia Day can be a time for hope, not resentment

Stan Grant
JStan Grant

Hope. On this Australia Day, that's what I'm thinking about: hope.

Odd, maybe — I am an Indigenous person — Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri, Dharrawall, to be more specific and respectful — you might expect me to talk about trauma, invasion, colonisation.
Certainly, those things cannot be ignored; those things that the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz once called "the memory of wounds".
These wounds are real; for so many, the legacy of this country's history hangs like a dead weight.
Where is hope? When we are reminded almost daily of the tragedy of Aboriginal youth suicide; children as young as 10 years old who cannot face another day of life in our country.
Yet, without hope, where are we? Read more

Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?

By Christopher de Bellaigue
JEuthanasia

Countries around the world are making it easier to choose the time and manner of your death. But doctors in the world’s euthanasia capital are starting to worry about the consequences.

Last year a Dutch doctor called Bert Keizer was summoned to the house of a man dying of lung cancer, in order to end his life. When Keizer and the nurse who was to assist him arrived, they found around 35 people gathered around the dying man’s bed. “They were drinking and guffawing and crying,” Keizer told me when I met him in Amsterdam recently. “It was boisterous. And I thought: ‘How am I going to cleave the waters?’ But the man knew exactly what to do. Read more

Outline of Courses for 2019

Aquinas Logo

All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks, Sydney and include class notes. 

February 2019

Reading Graciously: Mercy and the Heart in St Paul and Pope Francis
Presenter: Robert Tilley, PhD
When: 3 Wednesday mornings, 10am – 12noon, February 6, 13, 20
Cost: $120/person 

Development, Social Justice and Globalisation: An Experiential and Reflective Approach
Presenter: Joffre Balce, MSc Industrial Eonomics
When: 4 Friday evenings, 6pm – 8pm, Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1
Cost: $150/person

Read more ...

Religious freedom in secular Australia

Frank Brennan
J Religious Freedom

Seven months on, the Morrison government has published the Religious Freedom Review — a report of an expert panel chaired by Philip Ruddock. It has also published its response. The review was instituted by Malcolm Turnbull during the plebiscite on same sex marriage. Many 'yes' voters in the plebiscite were convinced that a change to the law of marriage would not make one iota of difference to freedom of religion in Australia. Many 'no' voters were worried that the changes could be frightful. The debate which then erupted about religious freedom when Parliament was legislating to recognise same sex marriage highlighted that Australian legislation at the Commonwealth and state level for the protection of all human rights, including freedom of religion, was at best patchy. Read more

Philip Wilson's dead letter day

By Frank Brennan
Everyone, including the victims of abuse and church officials like Wilson, is entitled to be governed by laws which are clear, sensible and practical.
JPhilip Wilson

Philip Wilson, pictured prior to his resignation as Archbishop of Adelaide.
The show trial of Archbishop Philip Wilson has backfired badly causing hurt to many people, most especially victims of child sexual abuse who thought the law was being rightly applied to put an errant Catholic bishop in the frame.
Wilson was charged under a provision of the New South Wales Crimes Act, section 316, which has hardly ever been used. It's a provision which was introduced in 1990. It was reviewed by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission in 1999 and comprehensively trashed. Read more

 

Thomas Merton: the embrace of difference

Michael Barnes SJ
JThomas Merton 2

Thomas Merton, the famed spiritual writer, died on 10 December 1968. His writings are still as relevant as his life story is fascinating, particularly his treatment of ‘difference’, a word that ‘now commands an attention that would never have been possible fifty years ago,’ writes Michael Barnes SJ. The fiftieth anniversary of Merton’s death, particularly as it falls in Advent, is an opportunity to contemplate with him the action of the Spirit. Read more

A Time of Reckoning

Second thoughts about the sexual revolution.
Jpregnant teenager school

By Mary Eberstadt

Hegel famously wrote that the owl of Minerva flies only at dusk, meaning that history’s unfolding is most plainly seen in retrospect. With all due respect to Herr Doktor, some moments are so transparently situated at a cultural crossroad that they illuminate history even in real time. Improbably enough, the MeToo movement seems to be one.

As anyone following events can see, the ongoing sex scandals that gave rise to MeToo are more than just placeholders in the news cycle. They reveal a shift in the cultural plates of the last half-century and ... Read more

Oscar Romero: ‘Starting from the world of the poor’

By Martin Maier SJ
Jromero

On 14 October, Pope Francis will declare Archbishop Oscar Romero a saint, along with Pope Paul VI and several other beati. Martin Maier SJ, who has a longstanding connection with El Salvador, traces Romero’s personal transformation up to the moment of his martyr’s death in the middle of a sermon.

It has been a beatification and canonisation process dogged with obstacles and delays. In El Salvador, the vast majority of the population began venerating Archbishop Oscar Romero as a saint a long time ago. The impact of his murder during the celebration of Mass on 24 March 1980 was still fresh when ... Read more

Has the abuse crisis torpedoed Francis’ reform plan?

That is clearly the aim of those who oppose the pope. The question is whether they will succeed.
Jpope Francis in Dublin

Author: Robert Mickens, Rome Vatican City, September 14, 2018. (La Croix International). 
Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP.

For nearly five years he never made it one of his major priorities, despite the fact that many of his admirers and unofficial spokespersons tried to claim the opposite. But now Pope Francis, who was slow to even pronounce the phrase “clergy sex abuse of minors,” has been forced to face head-on this worldwide phenomenon and its institutional cover-up.

Read more ...

Rosemary Goldie Lecture 2018

JJohn L Allen Jr

Recorded video presentation on the subject of "Pope Francis and the Australian Plenary Council 2020/2021", delivered by John L Allen Jr, editor of Crux. Sponsored by The Grail in Australia and Catalyst for Renewal and delivered at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Sunday, 9th September 2018. View here

A time to keep silence

Austen Ivereigh
JPopeFrancis

Pope Francis refused to answer reporters’ questions about a letter released on Sunday by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, instead urging reporters to draw their own conclusions about the former papal nuncio’s accusations. Austen Ivereigh explains that the roots of Francis’ response might be found in an article that Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote in 1990, in which he claims silence is sometimes the only way to let the spirits reveal themselves.

‘When it’s our turn to live through a difficult situation, sometimes it happens that silence is not a virtuous act but is the only option, one imposed by circumstances.’

‘Read the statement attentively and you make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this.’ Read more

The true, the false and the blurry in Archbishop Viganò’s accusations

Nicolas Senèze

Viganò had been instructed by the Congregation for Bishops to apply sanctions against Cardinal McCarrick but appears to have been rather neglectful in doing so.
JArchbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

The former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, last month accused Pope Francis of covering up for American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexual abuse, sparking a media war between the pope's supporters and adversaries. Read more

Circumscribing the seal of the confessional

Frank Brennan SJ
JConfessional

In November 2016, I was asked about the seal of the confessional and told the Australian: 'If a law is introduced to say that a priest should reveal a confession, I'm one of those priests who will disobey the law.' On 3 December 2016, I had the opportunity to explain myself, writing in the Weekend Australian: 'A priest should never be required to disclose anything heard under the seal of the confessional.
'The state has the same right to regulate matters for a priest outside the confessional as to regulate matters for all other citizens outside the confessional. Not one child will be saved by abolishing the seal of the confessional. With the seal intact, the occasional paedophile might find a listening ear to assist with the decision to turn himself in.' Read more

No media witch-hunt on Wilson

By Suzanne Smith
JArchbishop Wilson 2

I refer to the article by Alan Atkinson published 12 July posing the question 'whether the pursuit of Wilson could in any sense be described as a witch-hunt', and making the suggestion that despite the court's judgment against him Wilson 'believes he has told the truth and is unwilling to give in to what he perceives to be a witch-hunt'.
In May 2018 Archbishop Wilson was convicted of concealing a serious indictable offence relating to the sexual abuse of a teenage boy by a priest in his diocese. Wilson is the highest ranking Catholic cleric to be convicted of such an offence. The Church's response to this episode should be of particular interest. Read more

Archbishop Wilson: Fair cop or foul?

By Alan Atkinson
JArchbishop Wilson

Archbishop Philip Wilson has gone from church leader with a reputation for dealing professionally with sex abuse cases to being stoned by all and sundry in the national village square. The calls to resign come not only from victims, anti-church crusaders and commentators of every ilk, but also eminent Catholics who fear he may cause more damage by staying on.

I do not wish to debate the rights or wrongs of resignation but simply reflect on whether the pursuit of Wilson could in any sense be described as a witch-hunt and whether he might be seen as a scapegoat for the sins of many.

First, I do not know Wilson and have interviewed him just once. Read more

Concerning Laws Demanding Disclosure - A Response from St Patrick's Church

Michael Whelan SM
JConfessional

What does the Royal Commission recommend?

“Laws concerning mandatory reporting to child protection authorities should not exempt persons 
in religious ministry from being required to report knowledge or suspicions formed, in whole or in
part, on the basis of information disclosed in or in connection with a religious confession.” ...

Comment: This recommendation is dangerously open-ended. See full article

Why the Catholic Church doesn’t want to break its seal of confession

JConfession Seal

South Australia has joined the ACT in moving ahead with laws to force priests to break the seal of confession in child sexual abuse cases. Other states are still deliberating over whether they'd adopt that recommendation from the Royal Commission. 

Catholic Church leaders reject the idea and say they'd refuse to abide by the laws. And one prominent theologist and politician says priests' mandatory reporting is not the most effective way of fixing problems within the Catholic Church. 

Michael Whelan SM was recently interviewed by the ABC's Catherine Gregory on this issue. Listen here

Enneagram Intensive Training & Weekend Workshop

Jenneagram3

Intensive Training 7-12 July
Wknd Workshop 14-15 July
The Enneagram Six Day Intensive Training Program
is both a stand alone course and Part 1 of the Enneagram Professional Training Program. This updated course offers a deep, transformative experience of the Enneagram, focusing on the integration of psychology, spirituality and somatics. The course includes a full examination of the nine distinct type structures, with expanded attention to the spiritual and somatic aspects of each type. Another key element of the training examines how the types show up in relationships. 

Read more ...

Subverting idolatry in churches and banks

JFinancial executives cartoon

Even after three weeks, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has come to resemble the earlier Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
We have seen the same initial resistance to a public enquiry, the same insistence that revelations of sexual or financial abuse reflected a few bad apples and not a bad culture, the same endorsement when the royal commission was called, and the same shaming as the public questioning of hapless senior officials followed damning evidence of abuse and of the failure to address it. Read more