The Eureka Street Religion Blog

24 February 2015


 

  • Francis, theological education and the public square

    • Jenny Te Paa
    • 08 October 2015
    16 Comments

    Thank you Francis, for although you have not spoken at any length about theological education per se — any more than you have spoken about the status of women per se — in spite of these somewhat startling omissions, this indigenous lay woman theological educator feels no less inspired, comforted, reassured, blessed, beyond imagining by your gentle, wise, insistent and prophetic urgings.

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  • Reshaping the public space: Lessons for Australian refugee, Aboriginal and climate policy

    • Frank Brennan
    • 17 September 2015

    Pope Francis's concerns are not narrowly dogmatic or pedagogical but universally pastoral. He knows that millions of people, including erstwhile Catholics, are now suspicious of or not helped by notions of tradition, authority, ritual and community when it comes to their own spiritual growth which is now more individual and eclectic. He wants to step beyond the Church's perceived lack of authenticity and its moral focus on individual matters, more often than not, sexual. He thinks the world is in a mess particularly with the state of the planet — climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages, but also with the oppression of the poor whose life basics are not assured by the operation of the free market, and with the clutter and violence of lives which are cheated the opportunity for interior peace. He is going to great pains to demystify his office. He wants all people of good will to emulate him and to be both joyful and troubled as they wrestle with the probl

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  • The inviolable inherent dignity of Aylan Kurdi

    • Frank Brennan
    • 06 September 2015
    11 Comments

    I believe in Aylan's inviolable, inherent dignity as a human being like all of us, no matter what side of a national border we might live. I believe that a globe of 7.3 billion people with inviolable, inherent dignity confronts huge challenges and real evil when almost 60 million people are displaced. I believe that secure national borders for a country as geographically and jurisprudentially isolated as Australia confronts an enormous moral challenge, and that we are falling short, badly and selfishly.

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  • The politics of popular evil and untrendy truth

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 August 2015
    1 Comment

    If you want to form government in Australia and if you want to lead the Australian people to be more generous, making more places available for refugees to resettle permanently in Australia, you first have to stop the boats. If you want to restore some equity to the means of choosing only some tens of thousands of refugees per annum for permanent residence in Australia from the tens of millions of people displaced in the world, you need to secure the borders. The untrendy truth is that not all asylum seekers have the right to enter Australia but that those who are in direct flight from persecution whether that be in Sri Lanka or Indonesia do, and that it is possible fairly readily (and even on the high seas) to draw a distinction between those in direct flight and those engaged in secondary movement understandably dissatisfied with the level of protection and the transparency of processing in transit countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. The popular evil is that political

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  • The insights of Pope Francis in shaping Catholic health and aged care

    • Frank Brennan
    • 25 August 2015
    7 Comments

    When addressing Italian doctors last November, Pope Francis quoted St. Camillus de Lellis who suggested that the most effective method in caring for the sick was simply to 'Put more heart into those hands.' Let's do something to change the market settings and political settings here in Australia to modify the behaviour of all Australians in the future, and let's attend to our own Franciscan interior ecological conversion with our care for the vulnerable.

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  • A trinity of questions about Laudato Si’

    • Frank Brennan
    • 05 August 2015
    3 Comments

    Pope Francis is not the first pope to address a social encyclical to everyone. But in comparison with his predecessors, Francis has been more inclusive in the process of writing the encyclical and in the final content of the document. He quotes from 17 different conferences of Catholic bishops. He is at pains to indicate that he is collaborative and that he takes the principle of subsidiarity very seriously. Being the final redactor of the text, he has felt free to interpolate some very folksy advice from time to time. He has also taken the liberty of inserting some very blunt, evocative images of environmental and economic devastation.

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  • Homily for the Feast of St Ignatius Loyola

    • Frank Brennan
    • 02 August 2015
    1 Comment

    I am one of those Jesuits who sometimes has been perceived as not being sufficiently loyal to the church hierarchy. From time to time, people of good will have urged me to consider Ignatius' rules for thinking with the Church which are appended to his Spiritual Exercises. The stereotypical view of those rules is often summed up by quoting the first sentence of the 13th rule: 'To keep ourselves right in all things, we ought to hold fast to this principle: What I see as white, I would believe to be black if the hierarchical Church would thus determine it.' But life was not ever that simple, even in the time of Ignatius. Feast of St Ignatius homily by Frank Brennan

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  • If Ignatius hadn't missed the boat ...

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 29 July 2015
    3 Comments

    Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast day is on 31 July, is remembered for founding the Jesuits, for his Spiritual Exercises and for the effect Jesuits had on European history and in overseas missions. He was a man who made a difference. But during his life that reputation was not a done deal. One often overlooked event, more accurately an event that failed to happen, shaped decisively how he has come to be remembered.

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  • Social activist will be sadly missed

    • John Falzon
    • 22 July 2015
    3 Comments

    Tony Thornton, former National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia, was a great lover of humanity and fighter for social justice. The persistence of poverty and homelessness in prosperous Australia affected him deeply. He was never willing to accept a status quo that included the wholesale rejection of people who were made to feel the sharp edge of inequality.

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  • The reconciling power of our common experience of 'mother' land

    • Andrew McAlister
    • 09 July 2015
    1 Comment

    The past week's meeting at Kirribilli House between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and politicians decided on the establishment of a Referendum Council. We should not overlook the power of the land itself to reconcile us. Theologian, archaeologist, and biblical scholar Eugene Stockton, along with artist Terence O'Donnell, has just produced a timely booklet titled This Land, Our Mother.

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  • Overcoming polarised attitudes to sexual orientation

    • Thomas O'Brien
    • 07 July 2015
    5 Comments

    Since the 1950s, the Western World has been experiencing an upheaval regarding the place of society's values in sexual relations. The response of many conservatives has been to act as if nothing has changed and that the social mores and social fabric of the 1950s remain.

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  • The challenge of education for social justice

    • Frank Brennan
    • 07 July 2015
    3 Comments

    I suspect Pope Francis had some of our Jesuit alumni in mind when he wrote in his encyclical Laudato Si: 'A politics concerned with immediate results, supported by consumerist sectors of the population, is driven to produce short-term growth... True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty'.

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  • Maintaining the humanity of the public square

    • Greg O'Kelly
    • 30 June 2015
    3 Comments

    The phrase 'the public square' is peppered throughout Frank Brennan's work. The 1988 film Cinema Paradiso depicts the public square in a Sicilian village over 30 or so years, and its slow and subtle change from a place where human beings gather to laugh, play and discuss. Billboards and garish signs appear and it becomes a car park bereft of its humanity.

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  • My tribute to Vicki Clark's passionate ministry

    • Frank Brennan
    • 25 June 2015
    4 Comments

    The simple Aboriginal ritual over the burial site of Conaci was in stark contrast to the pomp and hierarchical ceremony in St Peter’s Square the previous day.  Vicki and her companions were there leading those of us who are the descendants of their colonizers, teaching us the history, sharing the story, and enabling us to embrace the mystery of it all.

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  • Ambassador of conscience

    • Sean McManus
    • 24 June 2015
    4 Comments

    As much as any other religious figure in Australia, Frank Brennan has maintained a religious perspective while engaging in issues of ethics and justice in contemporary Australia. His book Amplifying that Still Small Voice emphasises the importance of the 'religious sense that the human person is created in the image and likeness of God', while speaking in the language and terms that are understandable to the public square.

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  • Christian perspectives on war and peace

    • Frank Brennan
    • 23 June 2015
    1 Comment

    Given the ready access we have to international media and the world wide web, we can no longer plead ignorance of the trouble going on in our world. Those of us who are purist pacifists can presumably put a coherent case for eschewing violence in all cases, even were a madman to be imminently threatening the lives of our most vulnerable loved ones. 

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  • Frank Brennan's 'fifth gospel'

    • William Morris
    • 14 June 2015
    7 Comments

    'Frank points out that the Church cannot credibly proclaim a message of social justice in a pluralist democracy when its own processes fall short of ordinary community standards of justice. It needs to turn its teaching about human rights and human dignity back on itself, the Church, insisting on due process within the life of the Church community.' Bishop William Morris helps launch Frank Brennan's new book Amplifying That Still, Small Voice.

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  • Demanding justice for the small, still voices

    • Shannon and Kateena
    • 11 June 2015
    1 Comment

    'In chapter 12 "Respecting Autonomy and Protecting the Vulnerability of the Dying", Frank quoted my grandmother ... "Well there is not much to say about euthanasia is there? Just don't kill people and look after them while they are dying. What more can you say?" Well Grandma, I am not certain that I share your view. Just as Pope Francis did not know all the answers at age 36 years, neither do I.' Frank Brennan's nieces Shannon and Kateena help launch his new book Amplifying That Still, Small Voice.

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  • A crucial time for a discerning voice

    • Michael Elligate
    • 09 June 2015

    'The Institutional Church has so often taken smug refuge in pushing the need for an informed conscience. However this does not certainly mean personal freedom must bow to the stand of the establishment. The rights of partners to be honest in their own sexual matters is given due place in this new book.' Fr Michael Elligate launches Fr Frank Brennan SJ's book Amplifying That Still, Small Voice at Newman College, Melbourne, 5 June 2015.

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  • Meddling priest's witness to the primacy of conscience

    • Paul Bongiorno
    • 08 June 2015
    9 Comments

    'In discussing Australia's asylum seeker policies Frank laments the government's deaf ear to calls from the churches, his own included, for a greater measure of compassion and a better way of dealing with the issue of boat people. Frank wryly comments: 'If only the Abbott Government with its disproportionate number of Jesuit alumni cabinet ministers could listen.' Paul Bongiorno launches Fr Frank Brennan SJ's book Amplifying That Still, Small Voice at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra, 8 June 2015.

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  • Reclaiming faith from the props of belief

    • David Tacey
    • 04 June 2015
    32 Comments

    'We were told to 'believe' that God could perform miracles, but this was a false lead in terms of what we now know about sacred discourse in the holy lands. This literalism was used against other religions to prove the supremacy of Christianity, but ironically it is what turned the majority of Europeans and Australians off religion as education has swept through Western nations in recent times.' David Tacey reflects on faith and belief. Andrew Hamilton replies.

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  • Frank Brennan, Ambassador from the Republic of Conscience

    • Kristina Keneally
    • 03 June 2015
    12 Comments

    'As a legislator and a Catholic, I often felt gratitude for Frank Brennan's ambassadorship from the republic of conscience. I found the need to weave, this need to take 'data points' from many places and form my conscience. I regarded Frank as a bit of a hero.' Kristina Keneally launches Fr Frank Brennan SJ's book Amplifying That Still, Small Voice at Our Lady of the Way Parish, North Sydney, 2 June 2015.

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  • Call off the Cardinal Pell witch-hunt

    • Frank Brennan
    • 03 June 2015
    22 Comments

    As we await Cardinal Pell's appearance before the Royal Commission, many Australians are baying for his blood. It is time for those of us in the Church to stop paying undue deference to those who exercise ecclesiastical power in a fashion at odds with contemporary notions of transparency and equality. It's also time for all commentators to play the ball, and not the man.

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  • Romero answers the question of who a pastor should side with

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 May 2015
    4 Comments

    We recall that Oscar Romero was chosen by the Vatican to be the new archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 because he was regarded as a safe spiritual leader who was acceptable to the politically powerful in El Salvador.  It was thought that he would not challenge the status quo.  Such predictions came to nought given the events of 12 March 1977 when his friend, the Jesuit Fr Rutillio Grande SJ was killed with two of his companions.

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  • The spirit of Redfern's Ted Kennedy a decade on

    • Frank Brennan
    • 24 May 2015
    7 Comments

    There are many things different from Ted's day, but he would have spoken of them without fear or compromise. A pope from the South who asks 'Who am I to judge?'; a 62 per cent Irish people's vote in favour of expanding the definition of civil marriage;  the long awaited beatification of Oscar Romero whose identification with the poor did not win immediate Vatican approval; the call by civic leaders for an Australian cardinal to return home and answer questions posed by a royal commission; and the election of a black US president.

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  • Calling the Pope a feminist

    • Maureen O'Brien
    • 10 May 2015

    An eye-opener in the recent ABC TV Compass program on women in church leadership was how willing two leading  Australian Catholic women, Kristina Keneally and Sr Trish Madigan, were in using the 'ordination' word and seeing women's ordination as an essential part of equality in church governance. All indications are that Pope Francis doesn't share their view and nowhere more so than when he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, that 'The reservation of the priesthood to males ... is not a question open to discussion.'

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  • Anzac Day centenary homily at Harvard Memorial Church

    • Frank Brennan
    • 25 April 2015
    5 Comments

    This Memorial Church here at Harvard was dedicated on Armistice Day 1932 in memory of those who died in World War I. It is fitting that we, Australians, New Zealanders, Turks and Americans should gather in this place to mark the centenary of Anzac Day, the day on which Australians and New Zealanders landed in the stillness of the early dawn on the Turkish shoreline wanting to assist with the Allies’ advance on Constantinople, now Istanbul, the day on which the Turks commenced a successful, eight month campaign to defend their homeland against the assault.

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  • Anzac observance amidst life's rituals

    • Jim Pilmer
    • 22 April 2015
    3 Comments

    Attendances at ceremonies on ANZAC Day are increasingly supported and are prime examples of symbolic respect. There is probably no more moving experience than to be in the midst of thousands of totally silent people at a Shrine of Remembrance as the sun rises. How can so many people be so still? Such an act of speechless bonding is beyond description.  

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  • Non-judgmental remembrance of two gay men and their love for each other

    • Garry Eastman
    • 08 April 2015
    26 Comments

    I looked down at the two coffins resting at the edge of the sanctuary and shed a tear for the tragic loss of two great friends. I shed another tear also to see such public recognition of the love these two young men had for each other, to see that it was embraced by the public face of the Church which said clearly, 'Who are we to judge, they are our brothers.'

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  • Perth's affable answer to Melbourne's Archbishop Daniel Mannix

    • Simon Caterson
    • 01 April 2015
    4 Comments

    In contrast to the sectarian suspicion expressed by elements of non-Catholic Australia towards Melbourne’s Archbishop Daniel Mannix, who opposed military conscription during the First World War, his Perth contemporary Archbishop Patrick Clune was lauded during the war as ‘pro-war effort, pro-conscription, pro-empire and pro-crown’. Clune travelled from Perth all the way to the Western Front so as to minister to the Catholic soldiers sent there, and he enjoyed warm relations with Protestants and Jews.   

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  • The questionable good that our public policy serves

    • Elenie Poulos
    • 01 April 2015
    4 Comments

    Humans have always pursued wealth and the power it affords, but only relatively recently has the world itself become organised around the service of that wealth. The systems and structures which define the way our world works are financial, geared to the making of profit. They are global and buoyed by governments whose domestic and foreign policies ensure their support. ‘Social good’ and the ‘common good’ are assumed to be economic neoliberalism, and what’s in the ‘public interest’ is whatever advances the neoliberal economic agenda.  

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  • The death penalty is always political

    • Frank Brennan
    • 30 March 2015
    10 Comments

    Some of the Australian commentary on the Indonesian justice system has been understandably very critical.  But living here in the USA for a year, I have come to realise that the death penalty infects every justice system no matter how good and robust it is.  In the end, the death penalty is always political.  That’s why I am very grateful to Pope John Paul II who changed his position.

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  • Mindfulness an alternative to fear in face of security threats

    • James O'Brien
    • 01 March 2015
    9 Comments

    With fear mongering talk of a national security emergency from our Prime Minister, perhaps we need practices which help us engage our reality with gratitude rather than panic.  We speak of health of mind and body as we are increasingly conscious of the mental health challenges we face as a community. Amidst the unrelenting busyness and worry of our days, the merits of pausing in silence are becoming clearer. Silence in mindfulness and listening to loud music while exercising are two interesting parallel experiences in our society. There’s a key question here about whether in our moments of silence or music listening we are seeking to forget our day or rest in gratitude for it. Read more  

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  • Soul-destroying refugee policy shames Australia

    • Aloysious Mowe
    • 24 February 2015

    Just before Christmas last year, the United States Senate Select Intelligence Committee released its report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, and its use of torture on detainees between 2002 and 2006. Among the report's key findings was the fact that the brutality of the torture and the harshness of the detention regime went beyond what the CIA. had reported to policy-makers (in other words, the CIA deliberately misled its Senate overseers); that the CIA's claims for the effectiveness of torture to obtain information that was vital for national security were inaccurate and unfounded; that the torture regime had damaged the standing of the United States, and resulted in significant costs, monetary and otherwise; that personnel were rarely reprimanded or held accountable for violations, inappropriate activities, and systematic and individual management failures. Read more

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  • Will Andrew Chan payback hurt more than heal?

    • Brian McCoy
    • 24 February 2015
    2 Comments

    I have witnessed Aboriginal payback. It was in the Kimberley on an open sports oval. A young girl from the community had been found killed and I watched the community's desire to re-balance itself with the serious and public punishment of the offender. The whole community was present as the family of the deceased took it in turns to beat his back and stab his thigh. It was one of the most highly charged emotional events I have ever experienced. At the end, after all the punishment, he fell. The nurses took him into the health clinic and he was later evacuated to hospital. After the ritual was over I remember speaking to the father of the young girl. 'I want to kill him', he said. 'But even that will not remove your pain', I replied. His hurt was raw and tangible and nothing seemed able, at that time, to even get close to healing it. Read more

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Pope Francis and climate justice

    • Frank Brennan
    • 05 November 2015
    1 Comment

    Francis does not pretend to have answers to the big questions which will confront world leaders when they gather in Paris. But he does think the science is IN, and the evidence is clear that much of the climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages are the result of human action. We are blessed to have a pope who speaks to all the world about the prudence, justice and empathy required so that more people on our planet might enjoy integral human development.

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