Author: Frank Brennan

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Religion and violence in Australian-Indigenous history

    • Frank Brennan
    • 26 July 2016
    2 Comments

    The violence at the pastoral frontier of the British colonies here in Australia was all pervasive. 228 years after it commenced, we are still experiencing the after-effects. When I started advocating Aboriginal rights here in Australia almost 40 years ago, the prevailing wisdom was that the missions and missionaries were all bad news. It will come as no surprise that I have always doubted that Aborigines were well rid of religion and the missionaries in all circumstances.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Frank Brennan on John Molony's Don Luigi Sturzo: The Father of Social Democracy

    • Frank Brennan
    • 25 July 2016
    3 Comments

    John traces the political ascent and descent of Sturzo whose first public office was as mayor of his own town. The chapter headings mark each step up and down the Everest of Italy's experiment with democracy and fascism: the emergence of political Catholicism in Italy; the dream takes shape; democracy without direction; democracy in decline; the search for a leader; the stick and the carrot; the voice of the watchman; and enter the night. Sturzo goes into exile; Mussolini takes over; and the Vatican is well pleased because the Roman Question is finally resolved in 1929 with the Lateran Treaties negotiated by Mussolini and Pope Pius XI, each of whom got what they were looking for.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The changing face of the law across generations

    • Frank Brennan
    • 24 July 2016
    7 Comments

    Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the amendment to the Constitution which took out the adverse references to Aborigines. Following our recent election, we are assured at least six, and possibly seven, members of our national parliament who proudly claim an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage. They are represented in all parties and none. How good it would be if our elected Aboriginal politicians could come together across party lines and propose an amendment to the Constitution which recognises them.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    The moral conundrum of casting a vote on 2 July

    • Frank Brennan
    • 09 June 2016
    46 Comments

    Sadly, the major political parties have forfeited any claim to govern in their own right because they have caused such disillusionment among so many voters about other policy issues with strong moral overtones. Any voter impressed with Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' or inspired by his visits to asylum seekers on the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos could not blithely vote for either of the major parties, without first determining how to place some continuing political and moral pressure on them.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Reflecting on justice for asylum seekers during an election campaign

    • Frank Brennan
    • 29 May 2016
    5 Comments

    'Being in the middle of an election campaign, I will not be making any partisan party political points. However being here in the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro, I will conclude with a critique of both major political parties, and with one piece of political advice for citizens of goodwill seeking a national asylum policy more in harmony with the ideals set out by our bishops in their social justice statement.' Yass Catholic Parish Potluck Dinner, 28 May 2016

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    New Canadian and US laws revive euthanasia debate

    • Frank Brennan
    • 16 May 2016
    30 Comments

    Once the state legislates to permit assistance with the suicide of a dying, suffering, mentally competent person, the door could well be opened to those who agitate a right to kill and not just a liberty to assist with suicide, and that door could be pushed open onto a class of patients which ultimately will include those who are not dying at all That door is now wide open in Belgium and the Netherlands, while he Canadian Parliament is trying to place appropriate limits. I'm for keeping that door firmly shut.

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  • RELIGION

    The past, present and future of the Easter Rising 1916

    • Frank Brennan
    • 01 May 2016
    2 Comments

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Cheque book solution on asylum is unconstitutional

    • Frank Brennan
    • 27 April 2016
    33 Comments

    A bench of five justices of the Supreme Court of Justice, the highest court in Papua New Guinea, has unanimously ruled that the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is unconstitutional. Yet again, Australia has been complicit in its Pacific neighbours (PNG and Nauru) prostituting their Constitutions and undermining the rule of law in exchange for a fistful of dollars, with hapless asylum seekers, most of whom are ultimately proved to be refugees, being left to languish.

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  • RELIGION

    Neerkol orphanage findings and the place of compassion

    • Frank Brennan
    • 21 April 2016
    16 Comments

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now published its Case Study 26 on the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton. It finds that the response by the bishop and by the Sisters of Mercy to victims making complaints prior to 1996 was often inadequate and lacking in compassion. The word 'compassion' or 'compassionate' appears 21 times in the report. I have no problem with church people or other individuals adversely judging church leaders for a lack of compassion. There may even be a case for politicians doing it. But I don't think it's the job of a royal commission.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Patrick Dodson's Senate mandate

    • Frank Brennan
    • 14 April 2016
    21 Comments

    The royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, which signed off on its final reports 25 years ago this Friday, definitely improved the systems for supervision of persons in detention, reducing the risk of deaths in custody. It also led to better coronial procedures. But it failed to reverse Indigenous imprisonment rates and it did little to counter the underlying causes of Indigenous imprisonment. Back then, Patrick Dodson saw police as the main problem. Now, he thinks it's the legislators.

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  • RELIGION

    Religious thought in sacred secular Australia

    • Frank Brennan
    • 21 March 2016
    6 Comments

    I offer no public judgment of Pell, and unlike many other commentators I'll await the findings of the royal commission. I have however been outspoken about his right to a fair hearing and natural justice, not because I am a priest but because I am a human rights lawyer who cares about the universal application of the rule of law. It is when a representative of institutional religion like Pell taps into the generic religious sensibility or moral consciousness that the real work of Australian religious thought is done.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Deja vu for Timor as Turnbull neglects boundary talks

    • Frank Brennan
    • 20 March 2016
    10 Comments

    Rui Maria de Araujo, the prime minister of Timor-Leste, wrote to Malcolm Turnbull inviting him to turn a new leaf in the Australia-Timor relationship. It was not to be. But the Timorese are well used to winning the hearts and minds of Australians even when our political leaders appear to be tone deaf to their pleas. This time they have convinced the Labor Party about the justice of their cause, and there is every chance that the Australian community will rally behind them after the federal election.

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