Fr John Thornhill SM RIP
Fr John Thornhill SM died on Sunday evening 28 July. John was professed as a Marist in 1949 and ordained a priest in 1955. He made an outstanding contribution as a theologian both in Australia – where he was involved for many years with the Marist Seminary at Toongabbie, the Catholic Theological Union at Hunter’s Hill and the Aquinas Academy
Is Cardinal Pell a Martyr?
The Australian Church Tries to Move On
Because he has a weak heart and must build strength in his chest muscles, the seventy-seven-year-old Australian cardinal asks for a broom he can push around the jail’s exercise yard each day. The remaining twenty-three hours of his solitary confinement in Melbourne Assessment Prison George Pell reads and writes, when not sleeping and praying. He is not allowed to say Mass. Read more
Sacred Silence in Literature and the Arts Conference
4-5 October 2019 at ACU, Strathfield
This conference is a coming together of artists, writers, musicians, academics and practitioners of the sacred from different faith and no-faith traditions. The conference will offer opportunities to explore and experience.
Registration is now open. More information
Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse
By Matt Malone, S.J.
Pope Benedict XVI
Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. Read more
Parsing the Australian Catholic bishops' election advice
By Andrew Hamilton
Tentative prelates dip their toe into the water after a freezing winter.
The Australian Catholic Bishops' statement on the upcoming federal election, 'Politics in Service of Peace', is significant as much for the fact that it was made as for its argument.
It comes in the middle of a long, bruising time for the Catholic Church, and for the bishops in particular, culminating in the trial and sentencing of Cardinal George Pell.
When speaking on moral issues the bishops have lost much credibility in the wider society and among Catholics. Read more
An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow
17 Oct 1938 – 29 Apr 2019
The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.
Outline of Courses for 2019 (Updated)
New Courses and changed dates shown in this colour.
Developing Your Own Spirituality III
Presenters: Michael Whelan SM, PhD & Marie Biddle, RSJ, MA, MTh
When: 4 Thursday mornings, 10am – 12noon, May 2, 9, 16, 23
Day of Silence and Solitude: May 4
Where: At “Nazareth”, Colo Heights
Mysticism: Plain or Flavoured?
Presenter: Thomas Ryan, SM, PhD
When: 4 Tuesday mornings, 10am – 12 noon, May 7, 14, 21, 28
Film Lectio II: Bede Griffiths OSB - A Human Search and the New Creation in Christ
Presenters: Marie Biddle RSJ, MA, MTh & Michael Whelan SM, PhD
Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux
Austen Ivereigh, D.Phil
The 2019 Helder Camara Lecture at Newman College, Close and Concrete: Pope Francis Evangelizing a World in Flux, was delivered by Dr. Austen Ivereigh who is a journalist, author and commentator.
He is a former deputy editor of The Tablet and was for a time Director for Public Affairs of the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Read the Lecture here.
St Patrick's Feast Day 2019
Homily at the midday Mass, Michael Whelan SM
Feast days are days for remembering. Today is our feast day. We remember the people, events and things of 175 years. This particular act of remembering by us here today, is grounded in a more general act of remembering by the Church. For the feast of St Patrick evokes a broad landscape of memories that belong to the whole Church and, we could say, the human race at large. As Sister Fidelis McTeigue is wont to remind us, there are two types of people in the world: Those who are Irish and those who want to be!
Remembering is a mysterious process. Among other things, it is crucial to our sense of identity. “If you do not know where you come from you will always be a child.”1 The words of the ancient Roman poet, Cicero. I would add: “If you don’t remember well your past, your future will be more or less stunted.”
The sex-abuse crisis is global
And the Vatican knows it
2018 was the year that many Catholics finally accepted that the church's sex-abuse crisis is truly a global problem. Hence the Vatican's decision to bring the presidents of all the bishops' conferences together in Rome to discuss the issue between February 21 and 24.
The abuse crisis forces us to look at the interconnectedness of the church, and to resist the spirit of our time, which not only closes borders and builds walls, but also blinds us to how what's happening in one part of the world relates to what's happening in another.
Of course, we Catholics have all been taught that the church is the Body of Christ, and that if one member of that body suffers, the entire body suffers. Read more
'Red Hat Report' to 'audit' cardinals, ahead of next conclave
By Tom Roberts
A group of Catholics calling itself the Better Church Governance Group is gearing up to compile dossiers "in the manner of political opposition research" on cardinal electors ahead of the next conclave, the gathering that elects a new pope.
Although its publicly available literature casts the effort as non-political and one that is interested in gathering and collating information, an early memo associated with the effort drew severe conclusions about one of its targets, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state and a member of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals. Read more
Transparency key to tackling sexual abuse, says Vatican official
Catholic Church authorities' response of denial, silence and cover-ups in the past had only exacerbated the problem.
The Vatican's leading investigator of clergy abuse cases has made it clear that if a priest stands accused of sexually abusing a child "whether it's criminal or malicious complicity and a code of silence or whether it is denial," such reactions are no longer tolerable.
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the Organizing Committee for the Protection of Minors in the Church Meeting was speaking to reporters Feb. 18 regarding the meeting that will take place in the Vatican Feb. 21-24. Read more
Australia Day can be a time for hope, not resentment
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
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
Religious freedom in secular Australia
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.
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.