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  • RELIGION

    Church democracy and the 2020 Plenary Council

    • John Warhurst
    • 11 September 2017
    33 Comments

    There is a lot of big talk by Australian Catholic church leaders about the forthcoming 2020 Plenary Council, but remarkable vagueness about its likely shape. Now that the first of the consultation sessions about the council has occurred in Sydney, resolving the nature of the event becomes a matter of some urgency. Otherwise the council runs the risk of eventually becoming a huge disappointment.

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  • RELIGION

    Citizenship and the Common Good

    • Frank Brennan
    • 30 August 2017
    6 Comments

    'There was one controversy in which Lionel Bowen was involved that does provide good lessons for the contemporary Catholic considering the desirable law or social policy on a contested issue - lessons for the citizen weighing what is for the common good. Back in 1979 there was debate in the Parliament on a motion which was framed to stop Medicare funding of abortions. Bowen, a strict Catholic, was strongly opposed to the motion. He did not think the motion was about abortion. He thought it was about money.' Frank Brennan's 2017 Lionel Bowen Lecture

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Compulsory drug testing is no silver bullet

    • Frank Brennan
    • 29 August 2017
    10 Comments

    In an age of 'budget repair' when both sides of politics are trying to contain the welfare budget, the search for savings and silver bullets is relentless. If Ministers Porter and Tudge are really seeking 'a way of assisting people to get off drugs and back into work', they should convince their cabinet colleagues of the need to increase the Newstart and Youth Allowance so that it might provide a real start for assisting people to survive with dignity while preparing for and getting back into work.

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  • RELIGION

    It is time to stop equivocating about domestic violence

    • Sean Lau
    • 01 August 2017
    17 Comments

    As 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.

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  • RELIGION

    Respecting Australian law is key to religious freedom

    • Rachel Woodlock
    • 21 July 2017
    12 Comments

    Because 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.

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  • MEDIA

    Encryption and liberties on the 'ungovernable' internet

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 14 July 2017
    6 Comments

    Turnbull's attitude echoes the fear all autocracies have: that control is slipping away, and that citizens cannot be trusted to behave in a modern communications environment without government intrusions. Arguments are repeatedly made that such enlarged powers are never abused - a charmingly naive assumption - and that law enforcement authorities merely need the 'capacity' to have them. These can either abate, or be extended, after a review. The reality tends to be different.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    On Aboriginal land: seeking a place at the table

    • Frank Brennan
    • 31 May 2017
    6 Comments

    Indigenous leaders this last week have called for the creation of two new legal entities. They want a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata Commission set up by legislation. The Makarrata Commission would supervise agreement making between governments and First Nations and engage in truth telling about history. The envisaged destination is a national Makarrata (or treaty). So the immediate constitutional issue is the creation of the First Nations Voice. There is no point in proceeding with a referendum on a question which fails to win the approval of Indigenous Australia. Neither is there any point in proceeding with a referendum which is unlikely to win the approval of the voting public.

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  • RELIGION

    Becoming a church for mission 2030

    • Frank Brennan
    • 17 May 2017

    As the Church of 2030, we need to be more attentive to the contemplation of believers and our experience of spiritual realities, as well as the preaching of the church. Pope Francis has no time whatever for the notion of the Church as a perfect society. But, there is no way that Francis wants to abandon the ideals and the commitment to truth and justice so well exemplified by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict.

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  • RELIGION

    Reconciliation and mission

    • Frank Brennan
    • 15 May 2017

    The reconciliation of this vertical relationship is possible only through the mediation of Jesus who embodies, lives and dies the reality of this reconciliation. He puts us right with our God and thereby establishes the basis for right relationship with each other. In many countries such as Australia, Timor Leste and South Africa, the public rhetoric and programs for reconciliation have, at least in part, been informed and underpinned by this theological perspective.

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  • EDUCATION

    A student's view of 'big business' universities

    • Francine Crimmins
    • 08 May 2017
    14 Comments

    'We won't have classes next Monday because of the public holiday on Tuesday.' My tutor tells us this cheerily, as if he has done us a favour. I'm studying a degree that costs $4000 each semester, about $60 per hour of actual teaching time. This includes a subject where instead of being able to meet with faculty members, we must skype them. If that's not the most expensive skype call ever, perhaps the critics are correct, and young people should stop complaining about the potential increase of fees.

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  • RELIGION

    Finding meaning in a chaotic/changing world

    • Frank Brennan
    • 08 May 2017
    1 Comment

    Our Church is presently a strained, outdated social institution with an exclusively male hierarchy and clergy. But it is also the privileged locus for us to be called to the banquet of the Lord sharing theology and sacrament which have sustained the hearts and minds of similar pilgrims for two millennia. Thank God for Pope Francis who is showing us the way, helping us to find meaning in our changing and chaotic world, putting a fresh spring in the step of all those Catholics holding in tension the prophetic and the practical, the theological and the humanist, the tradition and the contemporary reality.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Unis share blame for profit motive funding model

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 03 May 2017
    14 Comments

    For various reasons, 'free' education in Australia has been qualified by HECS, which actually serves to wedge the liquid incentive of government and educational institutions on the one hand with the need for students to obtain affordable education on the other. Even that balance is now under threat, with a pre-budget announcement suggesting cuts to university funding and increasing costs to student degrees are in the offing. Universities are far from blameless in the present distorted funding model.

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