The Grand Imam of al-Azhar explains his world peace conference
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is organizing a World Conference on Peace in Cairo. His goal is “to eliminate the causes of conflict, violence and hate”. Pope Francis will be a featured speaker at the 27-28 April event.
"Addressing a message to the whole world” to “call for peace between religious leaders, between societies and between all the countries of the world". This is how the office of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar summarized the objectives of the forthcoming World Conference on Peace Read more ...
The State of our Democracy
Archbishop Anthony Fisher
Following Brexit, the election of President Trump, and other seismic shifts in politics around the world, commentators are pondering the strength and future of democracy as we know it. There are many things one might say, but in the few minutes I have today I’d like to consider five challenges to democracy today, all of which have a spiritual dimension. Read more: Anthony Fisher - Sydney Catholic Business Network 2017.pdf
Why idle moments are crucial for creativity
Our brains are at their most innovative when they are resting, so why aren’t we making time for quiet reflection?
Last month, both the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK Department of Transport issued a new ban. Passengers flying from certain areas of North Africa and the Middle East can no longer carry electronics larger than a smartphone on flights.
Royal Jordanian airlines cheekily responded by offering travellers “12 things to do on a 12-hour flight with no tablet or laptop.” Number 11 was “analyse the meaning of life.” Read more ...
Are the bishops up to the pope’s challenge to build a synodal Church?
"Catholicism today still flirts with the dangerous tendency to rely on one man only - the pope. A year-and-a-half after Francis’ speech, how many bishops and bishops’ conferences have embraced his invitation for a synodal Church?"
There has been attention on Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation that elaborates on discussions regarding marriage and the family, which took places in 2014 and 2015 within the Synod of Bishops. Read more ...
Remember, stay, rejoice: Praying the Triduum
The liturgies of the Easter Triduum are rich and evocative, and the depth of their meaning and impact can only be discovered if we participate fully in them. Sr Anouska Robinson-Biggin FCJ identifies three invitations that we are called to respond to over these days, and offers an Ignatian guide to how we might answer those calls in prayer and action. Read more ...In the final days of Lent, the liturgies of Holy Week issue each of us with an invitation to ‘be with’ Jesus in a special way. Read more ...
Religious belief in a tempest tossed church
In The Tempest Tossed Church, author and critic Gerard Windsor explores his appropriation of Catholic faith. Its title is drawn from a sombre 19th century hymn whose tone is embodied in the line, 'Save us from peril and from woe'. Its fearfulness is echoed in much reflection on the state of the Church today. But not in Windsor's book.
It is exploratory, teasing out for a general audience what being Catholic means to him today. Read more ...
Pope endeavors to shift church culture
In January, the Vatican office that oversees Catholic priests, sisters and brothers in global religious orders had a plenary session. Seven women attended as representatives of the world's women religious. That fact may not seem significant for those outside the Vatican, as sisters and nuns obviously represent a large proportion of those in religious life. But it was the first time in decades that women had been present at such a meeting, the result of a direct request to Pope Francis.
When some 900 leaders of the world's congregations of women religious met with Francis last May, they asked why they were not being invited. "Speaking about someone who is absent is not of the Gospel," the pope responded. "You must be present." Read more ...
No one wins as public discourse thins
It is a commonplace that our political discourse is much impoverished. Speeches are built around the sound bite designed to be quoted. The Trump administration is experimenting with letting go of speeches and communicating within the limits set by Twitter.
In such a world there is little space for more complex rhetoric, for cultural reference, for reflection on historical precedents, or for wondering. From their speeches we would not know generally what politicians read seriously and what significant cultural influences have shaped them. Their words leave no echoes. Political discourse is dominated by barracking and by answers to 'how' questions. Read more ...
Bergoglio’s red hat marked the start of the Francis era
Sixteen years ago today, an ailing Pope John Paul II created a record number of cardinals in the consistory of February 2001. Among them were a record number of Latin-Americans, many of whom play key roles in the current pontificate. This is the hour of the 'Class of 2001.'
Historians love to pinpoint moments that in retrospect come to be defined as turning points - thresholds beyond which history begins to look different, when one era slides into another.
Sixteen years ago today was one of those threshold moments in the life of the Catholic Church, when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was made a cardinal by St. John Paul II. Read more ...
Marriage and Divorce. "Jesus Too Must Be Reinterpreted"
Jesuits' Superior General
Incredible but true. In the eighth chapter of "Amoris Laetitia,” the most heated and controversial, the one in which Pope Francis seems to “open up” to remarriage while the previous spouse is still alive, there is no citation at all of the words of Jesus on marriage and divorce, presented primarily in chapter 19 of the Gospel according to Matthew: «Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning Read more ...
Catholic wrap-up at the Royal Commission
By Frank Brennan
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 horrifying.
Every case represented a person who claims as a child to have been abused by a person of authority in a Catholic institution — whether it be a school, a parish, an orphanage or a children's home.
Whichever way the statistics are interpreted in comparison with other institutions, they are appalling. Read more ...
Course: Poetry and Art
Starts Tuesday 28 February
Presenter Elizabeth Guy
“This four week course explores the interface between Art and Poetry and our persistence to know God. We will be exploring some poetry that you cannot live your life without! In our conversation I will model how to unpack various poems and share knowledge and skills to enhance your experience of some of the greatest poems ever written. ... This course is for the intrepid explorer of both art and poetry. Read more ...
Course: The Catholic Church and Democratic Society I
Starts Wednesday 8 March
Presenter Robert Gascoigne
This module will consider the relationships between the Catholic Church and democratic society in the modern period. Using both a historical and theological approach, it will reflect on the ways in which the Church has responded to, and influenced, political and social movements since the French revolution up to the present day, and how the development of democratic societies has affected the Church’s own life. It will have four main foci: Read more ...
Pope orders review of the new Mass translation rules
Pope Francis has ordered a review of “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the controversial decree behind the most recent translations of liturgical texts from Latin into English and other languages. The commission, established by the pope just before Christmas, is also tasked with examining what level of decentralization is desirable in the church on matters such as this.
The mixed commission includes bishops from all the continents. Significantly, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to be its president. The English-born archbishop Read more ...
Course: The Poetry of Grace II - Francis Webb
Starts Tuesday 7 February
In The Poetry of Grace II the focus will be on the renowned Australian poet Francis Webb with an appreciation of his courage and insights, inviting a deepening understanding of our inner world through creative literature and suffering.
Presenter: Michael Griffith, PhD
When: Tuesdays 7, 14, 21 and Friday 24 February, 10am – 12noon
Where: Level 5, 141 Harrington Street, Sydney
Cost: $144 per person, including notes
More information ...
Course: Film Lectio I - Creativity in 'Autumn Sonata'
Starts Thursday evening
In 'Autumn Sonata,' writer/director Ingmar Bergman examines the strained relationship between a mother and daughter. Eva (Liv Ullmann) has not seen her mother, Charlotte (Ingrid Bergman), a successful concert pianist, in seven years. Their meeting surfaces the tension that has its roots in the Eva’s neglected childhood relationship with her mother and her longing to be recognized and appreciated by her.
Through this film we will explore the sources of our unique creativity. How does competitiveness, envy, ... More information ...
‘Amoris’ argument is far from over
The fact that guidelines from bishops for the pastoral application of chapter 8 of Pope Francis's 'Amoris Laetitia' present opposite interpretations on the issue of access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics confirms one truth: the argument is not yet settled.
Charged debate around the implications of footnote 351 of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia, the document with which he closed a three-year process involving two Synods of Bishops on the family, has been going on for almost 10 months, and there no signs it’ll wind up any time soon. Read more ...
What Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali Had in Common
On an afternoon in 1958, near the shopping district at Walnut and Fourth Streets in Louisville, Ky., Thomas Merton was moving about inconspicuously gathering supplies for the Abbey at Gethsemani. The monastery, established in 1848 by the Order of Trappist Cistercians, is in Nelson County, south of Louisville near Bardstown. It is where Merton lived as a Trappist monk beginning in 1941.
Merton’s autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain,” published in 1948, and other works on interfaith dialogue, peace and nonviolence had made him an international best-selling author. Read more ...
Doctrinal chief dismisses idea of 'fraternal correction' of pope
The Catholic Church is "very far" from a situation in which the pope is in need of "fraternal correction" because he has not put the faith and church teaching in danger, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Interviewed Jan. 9 on the Italian all-news channel, TGCom24, Cardinal Muller said Pope Francis' document on the family, "Amoris Laetitia," was "very clear" in its teaching.
In the document, the cardinal said, Pope Francis asks priests "to discern the situation of these persons living in an irregular union -- Read more ...
Faith, Film & 'Silence'
An Interview with Martin Scorsese
On December 23, Paramount will release Silence, Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited film about the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan, based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo. One of the last century’s most celebrated Japanese novelists, Endo has been called “the Japanese Graham Greene.” Greene himself praised Silence as “one of the finest novels of our time;” John Updike judged it “somber, delicate, and startlingly empathetic;” and Robert Coles, writing in Commonweal after Endo’s death in 1996, called it “a major witness to Christian introspection.” Read more ...