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Confessions of a literature addict

13 August 2017 | Gillian Bouras

xxxxxWas Harry Potter’s 20th birthday to blame? Or the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death? Or merely the ageing process? It’s hard to decide, but in a life quite possibly ruined by literature, I have started remembering some of the books I read in childhood.


The cruelty at Manus Island

08 August 2017 | Ann Deslandes

Dom Hélder CâmaraAs I write, staff of the Australian immigration authority and their security contractors are working hard to close the detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, where Australia has held over 900 refugees for the last four years.

It is time to stop equivocating about domestic violence

31 July 2017 | Sean Lau

xxxxxAs the responses poured in to the ABC’s story on domestic violence in evangelical churches, I was reminded of the discomfort Saint Augustine showed, in The Confessions, towards his father beating his mother. But he still praised his mother for placating her husband to avoid beatings, and for criticising wives who were beaten. Augustine, then, while possibly opposing domestic violence, had no idea what to do about it, and endorsed behaviour that made it worse.

Ordinary Catholics must help with reform

30 July 2017 | Kevin Liston

xxxxxThere are many reform movements active in the Catholic Church. Most seem to focus on changing the structures and systems of the church, on reshaping doctrinal positions and updating teachings. Organisational reform is necessary and long overdue but there is also need for a complementary movement among ordinary Catholics.


Respecting Australian law is key to religious freedom

20 July 2017 | Rachel Woodlock

xxxxxBecause we are a multicultural and multi-religious society, we do not impose a singular moral or religious code on everyone. Believers can follow their faith’s code of living voluntarily. But if they choose to enter public debate about legislation on questions that affect everybody, they must construct their arguments based on reasoning acceptable to non-believers.

Ghosts of ministers past

03 July 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Greek Orthodox priestWhen I was a small child, Presbyterians ministers, including my great-uncle Jack, seemed to be everywhere. They march through memory: soberly suited, dog-collared, determinedly cheerful and often dull, although Old Jack preached a fiery sermon, and could well have taken to the stage instead of the pulpit. They were eventually replaced in my life by a procession of Greek Orthodox priests. They would extend their hands to be kissed in a gesture my nonconformist soul found quite shocking.

NAIDOC Week homily

02 July 2017 | Frank Brennan

There is no point in proceeding with a referendum on a question which fails to win the approval of you, the First Australians. Neither is there any point in proceeding with a referendum which is unlikely to win the approval of the overwhelming majority of the voting public, regardless of when they or their ancestors first arrived in Australia. Given that you Indigenous Australians have spoken strongly through your representatives at Uluru in support of a First Nations Voice, it is now for the Referendum Council to recommend to government a timetable for constitutional change with maximum prospects of a 'Yes' vote.

Family matters: Strengthening respectful relationships

25 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

Here in Ballarat, you know better than most other Catholics that respectful relationships in the church community have been rent asunder by the depredations of child sex offenders whose exploits went unchecked by those ordained to exercise tradition, authority, teaching and discipline. We will strengthen respectful relationships only with a voluntary commitment to truth, justice and healing — and not one forced by a royal commission or public odour. 

Live by love and not by fear

25 June 2017 | Frank Brennan

These cardinals have a few strong concerns. They think the pope should be setting down clear universal rules that apply to everyone in every situation. Having spent a life time as a pastor in Buenos Aires, Francis knows life is much more complex and messy than that. These four cardinals pine for the papacy of John Paul II. John Paul was a great leader and a great pope for his time. Francis is also a great leader and a great pope for his time, for our time. John Paul and Francis are very different. But then again, the times are very different.

Vatican II, the sexual revolution and clergy sexual misconduct

06 June 2017 | Stephen de Weger

Vatican IIThe sexual revolution and Vatican II was a release from 'parental control' resulting, for many, in the sudden emergence of full-blown psychological adolescence with its risk taking, experimentation and lack of a fully developed sense of responsibility. Many clergy either slid into adolescent liberalism or, collapsing under new adult demands of freedom, retreated into reactionary conservatism. Others grew up and moved on, into new ways of being 'celibate'. Clergy misconduct is found in all three groups.

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