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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Rosemary Goldie Lecture 2018
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
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
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.
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
Tour to India - Yearning for Peace
Information Evenings Cancelled
Join Spice Odyssey on a Yoga and Meditation tour to India, “Yearning for Peace”.
Are you searching for peace? Take the first step and find out more about this quest for peace at Information Evenings to be held in Sydney and Melbourne.
Melbourne and Sydney Information Evenings have been cancelled.
Please see the Spice Odyssey website for further updates.
Marie Fonseca: 02 9344 0523 or 0418 265 117
Website: www.spiceodyssey.net.au (for more information and to to download a flyer)
Circumscribing the seal of the confessional
Frank Brennan SJ
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Subverting idolatry in churches and banks
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
Forthcoming Courses in 2018
All Courses are held at Aquinas Academy, Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, The Rocks and include class notes.
Living! Not just Coping: A Contemplative Psychology for our Times
Presenter: Catherine Hammond BS in Ed, MA, MPh
When: 4 Wednesday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 2 - 23
Developing Your Own Spirituality I
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am - 12noon, May 17 - June 7
How we came to be so cruel to asylum seekers
If you had been told 30 years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed.
In 1992 we introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Since that time, we have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned to the point of departure; that those who haven’t been able to be forcibly returned should be imprisoned indefinitely on remote Pacific Islands...Read more
Pope Francis admits ‘serious errors’ in handling of Chilean sex abuse cases
In what has the appearance of the beginning of an earthquake in the Chilean church, Pope Francis has sent a strong letter to the Chilean bishops in which he speaks of his “pain and shame” on receiving the report on the abuse scandal in Chile from Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. He had sent Archbishop Scicluna to listen to the victims of abuse last February.
In the three-page letter, he admits his own “serious mistakes” in dealing with this scandal and asks for forgiveness and goes on to take two dramatic steps: He summons the entire Chilean hierarchy ... Read more
Clerical culture produces poor fruit
In a recent Eureka Street article I remarked that in the Catholic Church clericalism is a pejorative term. I tried also to identify some of the attitudes and behaviour associated with people regarded as clericalist. The article sparked a lively conversation.
Some contributors criticised me for focusing on individuals and not on the more insidious culture of clericalism. The criticism was justified, and in this article I shall reflect on the culture and its byproducts.
As a culture clericalism displays a world view in which the Catholic Church is a self-sufficient world. Its security, reputation and ... Read more