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Author: John Warhurst

  • RELIGION

    Distinctive Catholic voices in the election campaign

    • John Warhurst
    • 26 April 2022
    9 Comments

    The Church must speak up to be relevant, but those who seek to ‘speak for the church’ must be brave. They risk exposing themselves to claims of bias unless they stick to a very narrow agenda and speak in extremely measured terms. Yet if they are too bland they risk being irrelevant to the sharp end of political debate and their intervention becomes little more than a symbolic ritual.   

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  • RELIGION

    Forward to the Second Plenary Council Assembly

    • John Warhurst
    • 05 April 2022

    The 280 Plenary Council (PC) Members have just taken another major step towards the Second Assembly in Sydney on 3-9 July. Yet it is difficult to have a proper public conversation about this step because it has taken place behind closed doors. Towards the Second Assembly comes a long way under the guidance of the four writing groups, whose membership has not been made public. Though it is a mixed bag, it is probably the best document emerging from the PC, making it even more frustrating that it is not in the public domain. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    National security elections: Reds under the bed

    • John Warhurst
    • 09 March 2022
    9 Comments

    Domestic policies are often regarded as more important than foreign affairs and defence policies in influencing Australian election campaigns. But national security campaigns by the government of the day, known as either khaki elections or reds under the beds, have such a long history in Australian federal elections that they challenge the conventional wisdom.  

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  • RELIGION

    Open government for the Church

    • John Warhurst
    • 10 February 2022
    21 Comments

    The Church in Australia has taken a step towards greater transparency with the release by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) of its first ever Annual Report-this one for the 2020 year. This step is welcome, but there is more to be done. Synodality and co-responsibility presumes that those who are walking together have equal access to information upon which to discern the future of the Church at all levels. 

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  • RELIGION

    When synodality confronts hierarchy 

    • John Warhurst
    • 14 December 2021
    3 Comments

    Synodality confronts the traditional practice of hierarchy within the church. When the ACBC responded last December to The Light from the Southern Cross report, which promoted synodality and co-responsible governance, it re-stated its position that hierarchy was embedded in the church’s approach to governance. This immediately set up a potential tension between episcopal authority and participation in governance by the People of God. 

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  • RELIGION

    Church should prioritise wider community interests over its own

    • John Warhurst
    • 02 December 2021
    27 Comments

    Church and state are confronting one another right now over the federal freedom of religion bill and the Victorian anti-discrimination bill. Whenever such confrontation occurs it reveals our priorities. We define our identity by what we choose to fight for hardest.  

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  • RELIGION

    Evaluating plenary: One journey ends, another begins

    • John Warhurst
    • 28 October 2021
    11 Comments

    Ten days after the conclusion of the first Assembly of the Plenary Council each member was sent an Evaluation Form to complete. As well as reflecting on our experience we were asked to consider how we would complete the phrase ‘It would have been good if…’. The authorities told us that our responses would help to plan the second Assembly. 

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  • RELIGION

    Synodality is a work in progress

    • John Warhurst
    • 23 September 2021
    32 Comments

    Synodality, the new term which is sweeping the church, is an aspirational goal not a proven methodology. For this reason, it is a test case for the lasting impact on church reform of the papacy of Pope Francis. He has given us an aspiration but also set us a test.  

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  • RELIGION

    Strapped in for the Plenary Council ride

    • John Warhurst
    • 26 August 2021
    25 Comments

    Those of us who are members of the Plenary Council are now strapped in for what looks likely to be an uncertain ride. Some members, having concluded their initial formal formation and training, are now meeting in officially organised discussion sessions to build up their preparation for the first assembly which is now just over a month away.  

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  • RELIGION

    The challenges of representing Catholic Australia

    • John Warhurst
    • 20 July 2021
    70 Comments

    The Plenary Council First Assembly is only two months away, but uncertainty still remains about the role that its 282 members will play. Not just about what work they will do but what conception of the role they will bring or will be imposed upon them by the authorities.

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  • RELIGION

    The Church should learn from democracy’s spirit of equality and participation

    • John Warhurst
    • 22 June 2021
    57 Comments

    Democracy is a modern ideal, still fighting for acceptance in some parts of the world. It has had to be fought for by brave advocates. The church by contrast is an ancient pre-democratic institution, which shows in its hierarchical organisation and undemocratic internal processes. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Time to be more careful about using politically charged language

    • John Warhurst
    • 20 May 2021
    38 Comments

    Modern Australian society is infected with imported terms. The list includes political correctness, identity politics, culture wars, woke and virtue signalling. They are often not used in a neutral fashion, but to denigrate the legitimate views and opinions of others.

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