Eureka Street Extra
Catholic communicators navigating new media
THE MEDDLING PRIEST
Church and ordained ministry in the 21st century
Fr Frank Brennan's keynote address at the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Clergy Assembly, St Clement's, Gaylong, on 22 May 2013
University as an agent of transformation
'Transformation and empowerment will come through the exercise of kindness and tenderness, accompanied by the practical abilities inculcated by a rounded Catholic education.' Frank Brennan's address at the Transformation and Empowerment Symposium marking 50 years of the Signadou campus of ACU, 22 March 2013.
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution
Frank Brennan's address 'Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution' presented at the 18th National Schools Constitutional Convention, The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 21 March 2013.
How can the Catholic Church contribute to a better culture for life?
Change is upon the Church. Just recall the scene when the new pope emerged on the Vatican balcony. He appeared with none of the papal trimmings of office, and did not once did he refer to the papacy. Could something of this new papal style help Catholics engage more creatively with their fellow citizens? Text from Frank Brennan's lecture 'How Can the Catholic Church Contribute to a Better Culture for Life?'
Contemplating Fred Hollows
'I have been asked to provide a spiritual reflection for Fred who was not always given to spiritual conversation. I find the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah helpful. He came to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, bring freedom to the oppressed and sight to the blind. Fred did all these things, sometimes brusquely.' Frank Brennan on the 20th anniversary of Fred Hollows' death.
Eulogy for the 'Martha and Mary' of St Christopher's
'The sun had finally come to Canberra. Therese was sitting out on the back patio surrounded by children and grandchildren. She had a ticket of leave from the hospital. With grace, humour and gentleness, she recalled that a friend had urged her to live until October when the roses would be in bloom. She schooled us all in beauty and truth even in the midst of adversity.' Frank Brennan's eulogy for Therese Mary Vassarotti.
The Church is not beyond reproach
'Might not the chief problem with Church language in the public square be that we tend to come from a position of moral superiority, approaching those dreadfully compromised politicians who will do anything to be elected? The abuse crisis reminds us that the Church is not irreproachable.' Text from Fr Frank Brennan's presentation at the Anglican Church of Australia's Public Affairs Commission Conference, November 2012.
Law and justice for abuse victims, Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers
'Even without the political static which is drowning us all out down there in Canberra, there is real doubt whether the Gillard bluff 'Don't get on a boat because you might end up in Nauru' can do what the Howard bluff could not deliver.' Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's Law and Justice Oration at the Law and Justice Foundation 2012 Justice Awards Dinner, Parliament House, Sydney.
Mabo 20 years on
'Though land rights and self-determination provide no utopia for the contemporary indigenous Australian community, they have belatedly put right an ancient wrong. The cost and inconvenience are unavoidable. Terra nullius is no longer an option.' Full text is from Fr Frank Brennan's keynote speech at the Central Queensland Law Association Conference, Mercure Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, 27 October 2012.
Advancing human rights in Australia
Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Advancing human rights in Australia — lessons from the National Human Rights Consultation' at the 'Human Rights Matters!' conference marking Anti-Poverty Week 2012. 17 October 2012, Cardinal Knox Centre, St Patricks Cathedral, Melbourne.
Reflections on the death penalty on the tenth anniversary of the Bali Bombings
Fr Frank Brennan SJ's paper 'Reflections on the death penalty on the tenth anniversary of the Bali Bombings' presented at the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Australians Against Capital Punishment Dinner, Red Hill, Brisbane, 12 October 2012, Commemorating the 10th World Day Against the Death Penalty.
Aboriginal Catholics' culturally enriched living
'It has been helpful to have the Pope offer the encouragement that there need not be any conflict between Christian faith and Aboriginal culture. But Aboriginal culture is often founded on religious beliefs which find and express God's self-communication outside of Christ and the Church's seven sacraments.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Culturally Enriched Through the Gospel' at the NATSICC Conference on 1 October 2012.
Brennan and Katter's Aboriginal pilgrimage
'I had the pleasure of the company of Bob Katter at a series of meetings with Aboriginal Councillors before addressing a public meeting on Palm Island. Some say there has been little growth or change on these remote Aboriginal communities. In fact some of what we saw was unimaginable 30 years ago.
'We do not stay focused on a moribund, severed arm. Rather we remember that Francis with this arm always pointed towards Christ, and always embraced all before him, especially the poorest of the poor.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address at St Christopher's Cathedral, Canberra, for the visit of the Relic of St Francis Xavier.
Vatican II then and now
'Looking to the future, I want to focus on the role of the laity in the growing absence of priests. And I want to insist on the need for due process, transparency and respectful dealing within the Church.' Full text of Fr Frank Brennan SJ's presentation 'Looking Back and Looking Forward Over Church and Life on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II' at the Spirituality in the Pub Goulburn Valley Annual Dinner, 21 September 2012.
Religious freedom and the law
'The common law leaves a gap between the mandates of the law and the conduct that we choose to engage in according to our individual moral standards. We call that gap 'freedom'. The challenge is determining the width of that gap for groups bound by religious faith which differs from the Australian majority.' Frank Brennan launches Carolyn Evans' Legal Protection of Religious Freedom in Australia. Full text
Seeking a more ethical way to stop the boats and deaths at sea
In the lead up to the election, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison are sure to continue insisting that the Gillard Government's Pacific Solution Mark II will not work. In all probability this will undermine the efficacy of the Gillard Solution in stopping the boats. Read the full text of Fr Frank Brennan's address to the Migration Institute of Australia, Menzies Hotel, Sydney, 14 September 2012
There is an ethical way to stop the boats
Behind all the legal technicalities and political argument about boat people, there is room for deeper ethical reflection and a more principled proposal. But first, to clear away some of the debris.
Six challenges for Indigenous researchers
Text is from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's opening keynote address at the Higher Degree Research Retreat, Rydges Eaglehawk, Canberra, 4 August 2012.
Leadership for justice in health care
Fr Frank Brennan SJ is board director of St Vincent's Health Australia and professor of law and director of strategic research projects (social justice and ethics) at Australian Catholic University. Text is from his address at Leading the Way, the Catholic Health Australia Conference, Perth 21 August 2012, Governance and Mission stream.
I have always associated Peter with words like chivalrous, knightly, courtly and courteous. He was courteous and elegant in conversation, listening intently to even the most inarticulate of people. But knights’ business is to fight.
The eloquence of God
'And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we saw his glory, full of grace and truth' (John 1:1, 14). In the second-last conversation I had with Peter, we agreed that that text should be the Gospel for his Requiem. There is a sense, I’m sure, in which every poem that Peter wrote was an instance of the Word becoming flesh.
Interviewing Peter Steele for America Magazine
About four years ago I had the great pleasure to spend four days with Peter Steele while he was at Georgetown. Hearing that he had died, I went back to those interviews, hours and hours we spent on things like the first time he read Billy Collins, growing up in Perth, unexpected blessings, and the never-ending catalogue of characters and words that fascinated and delighted him.
Peter Steele reads his poetry at Georgetown
While interviewing Peter in his office at Georgetown University in Washington in 2009, Jim McDermott SJ made audio recordings of Peter reading a selection of his poems.
THE MEDDLING PRIEST
Greater transparency will evolve the Church
Bishop Morris wrote at considerable length to Archbishop Chaput, in a highly respectful and fraternal tone. To be fair to Chaput, I will quote his breathtaking response in full. It illustrates what still passes for due process and pastoral care in the Roman Church. We have to insist on something better. And with greater transparency, we will get something better.
Inter-faith perspectives on justice and reconciliation in Cambodia
'The challenge to a Christian living in a largely Buddhist society has some similarities to the challenge to a Christian living in a society where the public square is largely the preserve of those who argue and agitate with a secularist mindset.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address to the gathering of church and NGO workers convened in Siem Reap by the Jesuit Refugee Cambodia on 12 May 2012.
On Jesuit collaboration
'This Jesuit network will not succeed where Copenhagen failed, but it is an incremental contribution to one of the great moral challenges of our age [climate change].' Text from Frank Brennan's paper 'An interpretation and a raincheck on GC 35's call to develop international and interprovincial collaboration', Boston College, 28 April 2012.
An exemplar of Queensland Catholicism
In the south people love to compare Sydney and Melbourne Catholicism, as if there is no other. But no one does Catholicism quite as ecumenically, quite as incarnationally, and quite as laidback as in Queensland. There is something distinctive and admirable in it, and it is summed up in the life of Fr John Dobson.
John XXIII's half century challenge
Full text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address 'Bringing the modern world into contact with the vivifying and perennial energies of the gospel (John XXIII's half century challenge)' at the Catalyst for Renewal Dinner, Hunters Hill, 23 March 2012.
Justice, the Church and the Ignatian tradition
Text from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's Lenten presentation 'Justice, the Church and the Ignatian tradition' at St Ignatius Parish, Norwood, 13 March 2012 and St Michael's, Clare, 14 March 2012.
St Patrick's Day talk
Text is from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's St Patrick's Day Celebration talk at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, 17 March 2012.
Working out what white Australia wants
I have been feeling sad and confused about the happenings in Canberra since Australia Day. On Saturday I got on my bike and went down to the lawn of Old Parliament House. I passed a sign: 'You are now entering or leaving the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy ... Abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.'
The role of religious faith in modern society: a renewed vision
Fr Frank Brennan SJ's address at the 'Ethics in a Multi Faith Society: Muslims and Christians in Dialogue' Conference, Conference under the auspices of the Fethullah Gulen Chair in the Study of Islam and Muslim-Catholic Relations, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, 23 November 2011.
A Catholic Social Teaching perspective on the Intervention
Text from the 4th Annual Gerald Ward Lecture 'How do we design a dignified welfare safety net without becoming a Nanny State? — Lessons from Catholic Social Teaching', presented by Fr Frank Brennan SJ at the National Library of Australia, 18 November 2011.
Homily for John Eddy
Asked 'How are you?', John would caress his scalp, straighten his hat, adjust his cuffs, massage his moustache, purse his lips, and answer, 'I'm headed for Grand Central. But I don't know when this service is due to arrive.' He never did meet Stalin, but thought he had met just about everyone else of significance on the planet.
Reflections on Gillard's atheism
Gillard's atheism puts her in stark contrast to her immediate predecessors Kevin Rudd and John Howard. We consider several implications of Gillard's position, including her relations with church-state issues and community attitudes towards gay marriage and euthanasia.
THE MEDDLING PRIEST
What difference does it make now that Mary MacKillop is a saint?
Mary visited Rome as a young religious woman when she was being persecuted by local bishops for being too independent. She got a good hearing from the Pope and great assistance from Fr Anderledy who became the Superior General of the Jesuits. If only Bishop Bill Morris could have received the same sympathetic hearing.
'Fundamentalist' Albrechtsen's Malaysia misfire
In supporting her opposition to gay marriage, the best Janet Albrechtsen could say was that the opinion was her own, and was 'fundamental'. These remarks shed light on Albrechtsen's bizarre attack on the judges of the High Court over their decision on the Malaysia solution.
THE MEDDLING PRIEST
Making friends not foes of rights and religion
The Church of the 21st century should be the exemplar of due process, natural justice and transparency. While there can be little useful critique of the final decision of Pope Benedict to force the early retirement of Bishop Bill Morris, there is plenty of scope to review the processes leading up to it.
Faith and famine: The new Irish who call Australia home
The faith of the Irish in politics, economics and religion is at a low ebb, and for the most understandable of reasons. It is not a famine, but it is mighty grim. There are tens of thousands coming here under the 457 visa and the Irish Working Holiday Visa.
Health and equality
'We need to break down the silo mentality between health, welfare and education. This exists in church agencies as much as elsewhere in society. We must be committed to providing first rate health care to our patients, but also to creating a more equal society.' Text from Frank Brennan's MercyCare Oration.
Religion and Australian law
I am bemused that whenever I agitate questions of Aboriginal and refugee rights I am well received by liberals, who then question my clerical entitlement to speak when I buy into debates on issues like euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research. On same sex marriage, I am attacked from both sides.
Religious groups and the Bill of Rights debate
Speech given by Fr Frank Brennan SJ at the 'Law and Religion: Legal Regulation of Religious Groups, Organisations and Communities' Conference Dinner in Melbourne on 15 July 2011.
Human rights and Christian lawyers
When I appeared on Q&A with Christopher Hitchens, a young man asked whether we can 'ever hope to live in a truly secular society' while the religious continue to 'affect political discourse and decision making' on euthanasia, same-sex unions and abortion. Hitchens was simpaticao. I was dumbstruck.
EUREKA STREET/ READER'S FEAST AWARD
Eureka Street writers awards winners
The Eureka Street/Reader's Feast Award was announced today in conjunction with Eureka Street's other annual ethical essay-writing award, the Margaret Dooley Award.
Back to basics on asylum seeker policy
The Rudd Government promised positive reforms after a decade of 'boat people'-bashing from the previous government. Three years later, we are back where we were. To understand how this happened it is helpful to overview the changes under Labor and the gradual decline in 'key immigration values'.
THE MEDDLING PRIEST
No justice for Toowoomba's shepherd
I have known Bill Morris as priest and bishop for 30 years. He is a good man — no flash academic but the most down to earth pastoral guy you could meet. His forced departure from Toowoomba has been some years in the coming. He is right to claim that he has been denied natural justice.
Jesuit Social Services recently set up a project in Alice Springs to resource the local parish and local Aborigines who want to take more control of their own lives. If we are to get our teeth into issues of acute injustice, we need to eyeball both the decision makers and those affected by those decisions.
Health and ethics
We need clever strategic and moral thinkers among our health professionals, who can engage with the demands of an aging population, with the gap in life-expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, and with the increasingly politically correct debate about euthanasia.
Responsibility to Protect is not a license to intervene
Many regard the 'Responsibility to Protect' as a doctrine which licences military intervention when civilians' lives are threatened by murderous governments. In fact, R2P emphasises the 'responsibility to prevent' as much as it does the responsibility to intervene.
Riots and refugees
The reintroduction of the Complementary Protection Bill to Parliament this week ought be welcomed. Given the protests in Christmas Island, it is clear that the mandatory detention policy is also overdue for reform.
Prophet of women's ordination
Patricia Brennan put the ordination of women on the agenda of the Anglican Church and kept it there. Like Germaine Greer, she was tall, with an unmissable presence and rich voice. And, like Germaine, she was often called strident.
Ireland's election was all about how to repay the country's debts. One hundred and fifty predominantly well-educated and skilled young people are expected to emigrate each day over the next two years; not only because they have no jobs, but because they have no hope.
Resist shock jock 'judge bashing'
I had anguished over a particular sentence which was the subject of days of media comment. One of my fellow judges stuck his head around the door and said, 'Neil Mitchell says you are right.' This I found unsettling. Then he added, 'But don't worry, Derryn Hinch says you are a disgrace.' Phew!
Keeping an eye on the newest nation
There is ample reason to be concerned about what could follow the referendum result that led to the formation of New Sudan. To prevent the potentially devastating repercussions, the international community must prepare to intervene.
The quick and the slow: a post-flood diversion
After all the flooding we were doing a little maintenance, the sort that requires a trip to the soulless hardware chain store. I left hubbie to it and ducked into the second-hand book store next door. The elderly gentleman serving asked me, ‘Are you from a big city – like London?’ ‘Why do you ask?’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘you talk very quickly.’
Why we lost the Ashes: it’s politics, stupid
The fortunes of the English and Australian cricket teams follow the fortunes of their nations' conservative governments.